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Music reviews are inherently biased, that’s a given. We all have preconceived notions of music and of artists, where based on social stigma or not; outside opinions or long-ago first impressions do have a major effect on the attitudes and opinions of the listeners.
So, here is my bias: I love Jimmy Eat World. Ever since the creation of Clarity they have been nothing but stellar, they have been nothing but honest-to-goodness pop rock ’n' roll.
To be clear, nothing in my mind will compare to the likes of Clarity. Its subtle tones, deafening honesty and heartbreaking originality still bring nothing but pure pleasure to my ears. And so, while JEW’s new album Damages is not Clarity it is still yet another solid addition to to the group's bevy of amazing records.
But what characterizes a Jimmy Eat World record?
It’s the passion. The passion that lies deep within the opening track "Appreciation" which uses group harmonies and the strong cymbals that culminates in the powerful code of the song, infecting the listener with the rich slick rock that JEW has patented throughout the years.
It’s the catchiness. The infectious, self-reflective hooks that the song “Damages” parades throughout. The type of infectiousness that forces you to sing along.
It’s the trademarked style. The style that is so persistent throughout the song “Lean” it seems as if the song is a continuation of one of the songs from the album, Futures . It’s the trademarked rock and roll breakdown near the end of the song that reminds you of "Bleed American," a more mature one at that.
It’s the rhythm, the rhythm that mediates the song, “Book of Love,” allowing the song to be free flowing and personal.
It’s the brutal, beautiful honesty. The honesty that has so characterized everything and anything JEW has ever done that is evident in this album with songs like “You were Good” which has the lyrics, “So I'm not who you wanted but/You're still the one who sets the fire in me/Guess I'll drink what I'll drink/Until the loving touch I need is not a need.”
It’s the completeness of the album, the succinctness, with the second to last song, “Bye Bye Love” where vocalist Jim Adkins uses everything in his heart, and everything in his voice, to put a stamp on the record, making it intimate and intact.
All in all, Damages shows once again that Jimmy Eat World is incapable of putting out a bad record, as each one they have produced has been nothing but excellent. And ‘Damages’ is also another staple of JEW’s music; one full of everything to love about JEW.
Likely, this album will not appeal to people who didn’t like the band before, and likely this album will not be on many people’s top 10 lists, but it doesn't need to be. It doesn't try too hard, the album is able to excel within its existence, within its own being, as a whole, complete record.