“Chase This Light,” Jimmy Eat World’s newest offering to the world of music, was released on the 16th of October. For the small group of people who care enough about their music to search for it rather more thoroughly on the Internet, it was available from the 29th of September and for those even better at Googling, unmastered demos could be found from the 7th of September.
It’s hard to see why people bothered. The album is another moderately average addition to Jimmy Eat World’s not-so-glitzy repertoire. There are some moderately good songs and some very good moments, but it isn’t coherent enough to be a good album. Every song sounds like something from middle school. And not in a good way.
The problem is that Jimmy Eat World tries to fuse high school punk with Placebo-style singing which a) is not original and b) doesn’t work. It simply makes for cringingly disjointed songs where one can do nothing but press the skip track button.
However, the album is not all bad; it’s a fine background to work to or for some semi-hip dive to play on low volume early in the evening. With lyrics that really don’t mean much (basically mid-teen angst interpreted by a 35-year-old singer), it can get annoying, especially with the lead singer, Jim Adkins, whining as he tries to sing the way he wasn’t born to sing. Some of the lyrics reach new lows: “suck that mucky feeling right out of me” — now really?
Although the song “Big Casino” comes from Jim Adkins’s solo experimental album, “Go Big Casino,” it is remarkably disjointed, with that middle nineties, early noughties manufactured high school band sound clashing vehemently with emo-esque singing and erratic efforts to show off how good the band is at playing guitar. It starts promisingly — the beat shift is particularly good — but it just gets annoying with pseudo punk and flying guitar notes. By the time Adkins sings “I’m a New Jersey success story,” it has become unbearable. Adkins has evidently just discovered Wheatus and dug out a few Ramones records from his basement. Apparently, the track is about nightclub bouncers, but it’ll take the entire English Department to work that one out.
“Gotta be Somebody’s Blues” is without doubt the best song on the album. Channeling late ’80s Depeche Mode, the guitar playing has moved away from the punkish sound it had in the earlier songs and has slowed right down; it is not given prominence. The singing too has moved away from the annoying not-quite-emo voice to a raspy, psychedelically altered one that leads you over the notes smoothly. The lyrics don’t have to mean anything when it sounds so good. The drumming is obviously period (nobody has drummed that way seriously since 1990), but it is the only song that would not be embarrassing to play while hanging out in your suite. It is a shame that they don’t retain the quality. Yes chaps, it’s back to people playing songs that sound like “Stacey’s Mom,” only this time the band is trying to be serious.
“Chase This Light” is also better than the rest; it has some of the quality that The Killers’ latest album has, the notes expanding and flying over Jimmy Eat World’s native Arizonan desert. The vocals are still annoyingly affected but, as a whole, it sounds good; at least you don’t have to skip to the next track.
Jimmy Eat World could be good; they just have to realize that the world has moved on. Nobody makes the “loser” hand-sign anymore, nor does anybody still listen to Weezer. It’s just not cool. Life, and music, has moved on. The band needs to catch up and produce something original.