THiS is Sound THROWBACK: Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American

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By: James Cassar

On Deck This Edition: Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American (2001)

Ah, the 2000s. I’m one of those kids who still believe the 90s is only a decade that’s been over for a few years. Pokemon. Tamagotchi. Actually great shows on Nickelodeon. Even though I appreciate the late and great Steve Jobs for gracing the world with the iPod, it was a much-simpler time. Music wasn’t as simple as it is today, however. Each band, although grouped into genres with their contemporaries, still had purpose and originality, whereas every crapfest of the Top 40 variety just croons to conform. I’m no old fogey, but bring me back the sweet sonic symphonies of a bygone era.
Although Arizona natives Jimmy Eat World are still raising a fist against this regime that borders on auditory communism, their decade-old Bleed American (more commonly referred to as simply Jimmy Eat World) is a pop-rock gem that holds up despite its age with its sticky-sweet melodies and heartfelt, intelligent lyricism that would put idiosyncratic outfits like All Time Low to well-deserved shame. This record has it all – unless you’re an advocate for eardrum-rupturing Auto-Tune. In that case, go back to your LMFAO while I’ll be the one actually laughing my freakin’ arse off at your poor choice. Ha!

A step down from their 1997 experimental post-emo effort Clarity, this album actually braced the mainstream tendencies of Green Day’s later catalog, while channeling the influential Sunny Day Real Estate and even dreary boys The Smiths when penning their personal prose. The record opens with the title track (renamed “Salt Sweat Sugar” for the eponymous release) and begins a no-holds-barred assault into guitar-rock territory, with ripping chords and a downtrodden synth backdrop that screams unbridled energy. Radio staples “The Middle” and “Sweetness” are both accessible and perfect formulaic pop songs, with vocalist Jim Adkins’ signature midrange yelp spitting out lyrics like a precursor to Fall Out Boy. One of the ballads on the record, the remastered “Hear You Me” is haunting, searching and downtempo – much like R.E.M.’s later discs. “My Sundown” serves as a more-than-adequate closer, broadcasting the themes of recovery and reconstruction over syncopated jazz beats and quieted guitar accents. The album maintains a fresh balance between power and introspection, with “A Praise Chorus” and “The Authority Song” shooting the standards of modern rock up into the clouds.
THE VERDICT –
Put down your preconceptions of whiny pop-punk for a second. Sure, blink-182 may have perfected it, but sure, there have been bands that have distorted the true sound. Chances are, if you were primed on those soundbytes, you’re not going to listen to Jimmy Eat World’s major-label debut with open ears. Even though some songs stretch the definition of accessibility a tad, this record is a solid deviation from your pink-haired princess Nicki Minaj. Time to turn up the REAL ‘super bass.’