Eighth record from Alternative Rock legends
Jimmy Eat World is a name that will make almost any 20-something year old buzz with nostalgia. Well known as one of the bands who managed to break into the mainstream with their brand of emo/alternative rock music, and into the ears of every angsty teenage kid of the era. As such, whenever a new Jimmy Eat World record is released, this same group of people seem to come back again and again, to hear the latest from a band that soundtracked their teenage years, and in similar fashion, they have come back one again for the band's latest offering, 'Damage.'
The group waste no time, opening the album with standout track 'Appreciation.' Beginning with a powerful lead guitar line, and a solid vocal start, as well as some fantastic harmonies, the Jimmy Eat World play through a great song. Hitting multiple time signatures on the way through, it straight away gives us the best song the album has to offer, before moving into title track 'Damage, which gives us a much more laid back feel. The song, while being much more straightforward, uses that as its strength, with the tiny little layers in the background being what makes this song such a treat.
We see a far more laid back, mellow feel in this album than some of JEW's previous material. It provides an interesting tension for listeners, at times feeling like they're showing us just how much they're matured as musicians over the years (Book of Love, How'd You Have Me) on tracks, which feature some unexpected changes and a lot of little intricacies, very similar to those found in 'Damage,'. At other times things appear mundane, repetitive, and boring (Please Say No, Byebyelove), with some tracks feeling like there just hasn't been enough effort put into the songwriting process, particularly lyrically.
The biggest thing to hold this album back however, would be the vocals from Jim Adkins. It's not that he's a bad singer, but rather the parts that are written aren't particularly suited to his vocals. More than half of the songs on the album feature vocal lines where you feel like Adkins just wants to take off and do something great, but it never hits a point where such a change happens, and then end result on such tracks is rather uninspiring.
The final track of the album, 'You Were Good,' is probably the best written song on the full-length. While being one of the simplest, softer ballads of the album, there is a lot of really simple things going on in the soundscape of this song (think really light lead guitar melodies, sustained synth chords) that give it a sense of fullness that wouldn't be there without them. However, the song is almost ruined by an effect placed over it to make it sound as if it were recorded with a tape recorder, which unfortunately turns what could've been the highest point of the album into something that no longer stands out among the rest.
Damage isn't a bad album, but by no means is it a good album either. If you were to put the album on shuffle, there would only really be a 50% chance that you would get something worth listening to. Diehard fans of the band will probably be content with this release, but it will struggle to resonate with just about anyone else.