Jimmy Eat World Plays Catch-Up With The Pop-Emo Generation

jimmyeatme.jpgARTIST: Jimmy Eat World
TITLE: Chase This Light
WEB DEBUT: Oct. 1, 2007
RELEASE DATE: Oct. 16, 2007

ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: Even as Idolator’s acknowledged pop-emo apologist, I’m keenly aware of the limitations of my current pet pop-rock subgenre, one whose great contribution to rock’n’roll was adding some minor-key boo-hoo and warbly falsetto/warbly screech and Celine-ian fist-to-chest breakdowns to goofy skate-punk. Especially given how badly the genre has worn its recent growing pains.

The grown-up airs (string arrangements, acoustic guitars, a general atmosphere of Dashboard-esque elder statesmen-ism) of Jimmy Eat World’s Chase This Light are probably earned after 14 years, but that doesn’t make the record anything more than primed to become (at best) interstitial music for spoiled heiresses on MTV or to languish in the back end of a VH1 video countdown between Train and the Fray. When the band stretches its chops past the comfortable, bouncy power-pop of “The Middle” on mid-tempo cuts like the Coldplay-humping “Carry You” and the title track, you get leaden adult-alternative with none of the speedy, ersatz punker oomph that at least keeps mall emo on the side of decent bubblegum rather than sliding (as it so easily does) into the kind of strummy, emotive dreck (with the kind of poker-faced choruses that toast “Here’s to life!”) that pads out a tender makeout scene between two overgrown children on Scrubs.

On the other hand, the emo-ified cuts, while a buzzing, juvenile reprieve from the sensitive, quarter-life crisis ballads, are indistinguishable from, well, “The Middle.” And usually not as catchy. Plus even if it was what these bookish, heartsick dudes were aiming for, they couldn’t write a (circa-2005) Gerard Way-caliber pop-thrash tune if they were threatened with being forced to listen to Welcome to the Black Parade for 24 hours straight, and when it comes to emo’s softer side, Jimmy Eat World has simply gotten lapped by younger, pop-savvier bands over the last few years. The electronically processed guitar and limply “danceable” beat of “Here It Goes” is neither as gauchely vocoded as Hellogoodbye’s emo-dance atrocities, nor as honestly hook-y as your average Fall Out Boy single. And “Electable (Give It Up)” proves why even grownups should keep politics at arm’s length if they’re usually concerned with romantic traumas no deeper than a nasty Facebook comment.

THE BEST TRACK: “Feeling Lucky” is fast, quick (only 2:35), and decent meat-and-potatoes power-pop/pop-punk of the sort that my tasteless, emo-omnivorous self should have grown out of a decade ago.

  • brainchild

    this cover is almost an exact replica of the 12″ label for Nikka Costa’s “Like A Feather” down to the font. of course it’s probably a reference to something that i’m not aware of so feel free to fill me in!

  • Al Shipley

    Wasn’t Clarity the Jimmy Eat World album where they got all ambitious with the acoustic/eclectic/overly layered production with strings and drum machines and moody downtempo songs? If anything it was more of a surprise when they switched to snappy radio rock on the album after that. Those Bleed American singles have aged really well for me but nothing they’ve done since then has had a fraction of its hooks.

  • katie_a_princess

    wow, so ouchy. i think “big casino” has pretty much handed my ass to me repeatedly, and i’m gah-gah for “carry you.” i wouldn’t mind that playing at a make-out sesh… but, then again, i am a grown-up, or at least that’s what my nanny tells me.

  • Chris Molanphy

    I actually really liked 2004′s Futures and found it surprisingly sturdy/respectable, considering they were coming off the big pop breakthrough. I especially liked the second single, “Work,” which had the requisite alt-radio hooks but also a kind of soaring quality that felt like old-school emo to me.

  • Mike P.

    Is that cover a homage to XTC’s Apple Venus albums?

  • the rich girls are weeping

    Uh, didn’t this leak a few weeks ago?

  • i wonder why comments have been disabled? Nobody told me why.

    hmmm “here’s to life”…is that a reference to a refreshments song?

  • Bazooka Tooth

    Everything this band has done after ‘Clarity’ has sucked. ‘Clarity’ was awesome– now these dudes are the definition of bland, boring, white people rock. Put them on a tour with Death Cab For Cutie and every 30-40 year old guy who wears American Eagle clothes with Vans and pulled up tube socks would be in heaven.

  • Twilly

    Man I loved Bleed America, I also love my Jimmy shirt with the States and arrows across it. It’s all worn and wonderful.

  • Rob Murphy

    I’m not sure why, but this post immediately made me wonder to myself, where has THIS GUY been hiding recently?


  • TheMojoPin

    Nice kitty.

  • jesseraub

    Dude, you totally dropped the ball. Clarity came out in 1999 and was the ultimate predecessor for everything any of these crappy bands have produced. You can’t mention emo-pop and Jimmy Eat World without talking about Clarity. Bleed American was their attempt to write mainstream top 40 hits. Clarity was the record they cried themselves to sleep to every night while lingering in the catchy hooks.