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Jimmy Eat World | Bleed American | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop
Jimmy Eat World
Bleed American (DreamWorks)
by Tim Den
The wait is finally over. The almighty Jimmy Eat World hath returneth to shed their radiant light upon us with... wait... This is what we've been waiting for?
Sad but true, kiddos. I want to deny it, the truth is that Bleed American just isn't that good. Call it over-crossing boundaries in an attempt to please the "mainstream," call it the macho reaction to the fragile but exquisite Clarity, just don't call it a worthy follow-up, cuz it's not. Where did it all go wrong? How did a band as untouchable as Jimmy Eat World create something as bland and mundane as this?
First, Mark Trombino's production magic isn't all that impressive here. Not as much dynamics, creativity, depth, or vision as he usually delivers. The whole thing sounds compressed as hell. Second, the songwriting sticks to clichés. The momentum's way too predictable. It's like Jock Rock or that easily-digestible shit they play on your local "alternative" station. Third, the lyrics are dogshit (just plain trite as hell). They make Jim's (Adkins, guitarist/vocalist) obsessions with Sundays and Christmas seem like genius.
"A Praise Chorus": the worst song on the record. The shitty production really shines through on the intro (throwaway drum sound). Insipid lyrics, bland chorus, and a terrible ending that quotes lyrics from a bunch of bands (sung by Davey from The Promise Ring). For fuck sake's, he says "kickstart my rock'n'roll heart!!!!" I know it's supposed to be geek chic, all tongue in cheek and shit, but it's just not that clever. Then Jim repeats "wanna fall in love today" in the most predictable way and the whole thing's flushed.
"Sweetness": the "anthem" that they've been playing for years. It's an awesome live song, but for some reason, Trombino and the band decided to make it soft techno. What's with the cheesy "Total Eclipse of the Heart" echo on the voice? The whole song has the production feel of "What Is Love?" (that SNL sketch and Night at the Roxbury).
"If You Don't, Don't": probably the best song on the album with great lyrics and chorus vocal-play. Would've been perfect were it not for the cheesy techno vocal effects (and some watered-down "back-and forth" between the main vocals and some processed vocals in the background, repeating the same lines) again.
"Get it Faster": would've been boring as shit without the Iron Maiden guitar thingy in the beginning. Jim sings way too low for his register and sounds forced and cheesy. That shitty techno voice effect again. Puke.
"Cautioners": a more "mainstream" take on the song already included on the split with Jebediah. The original was charming... this one is just typical.
"The Authority Song": aside from the shitty lyrics, the chorus packs quite a surprising hook. But what's this? Totally out-of-place female backup vocals? (Flushing sound)
"My Sundown": a weak attempt at recreating Clarity's finale. Extremely predictable and cheesy. Trombino actually said yes to the fingersnaps?
There are a few great moments, of course. The title track is a heavy tune with tricky melodies, the chorus of "Your House" is absolutely gorgeous, and "The Middle" has a catchy main riff. But more often than not, the positives are desecrated by the negatives. Just when everything's going right, out-of-place piano jabs come in. Just when a vocal hook brews up potency, its "shadow" repeats the same hook and totally kills the impact (this scenario happens on multiple songs). If you love dumbed-down powerchords and muddy bass frequency, this is for you. If you're looking for interesting guitar work, accessible yet affecting and crafted vocal melodies, and layers of undiscovered colors after numerous spins of the disc, Poor Rich Ones and Creeper Lagoon bury this.
This is the end of an era...