Jimmy Eat World - Damage (Cover Artwork)

Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World: DamageDamage (2013)
Sony Music

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: BryneBryne
(others by this writer | submit your own)

For a band with such remarkable consistency throughout their career, Jimmy Eat World's 2010 full-length Invented ended up an outlier, a long, meandering collection of retread ballads and weird, out-of-character rock songs that in places, seemed to want to recreate the heights reached on 1999 fan fav.
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For a band with such remarkable consistency throughout their career, Jimmy Eat World's 2010 full-length Invented ended up an outlier, a long, meandering collection of retread ballads and weird, out-of-character rock songs that in places, seemed to want to recreate the heights reached on 1999 fan favorite Clarity (the band had performed a successful run of Clarity album shows the year prior to celebrate its tenth anniversary, and it's fair to assume those songs were fresh in the band member's minds). Problem was, JEW weren't that band anymore: In the time since Clarity, they've experienced more success–commercially and critically–than they ever did before or even during its release. With all the hoopla and justified love for that record, it's easy to forget that no one really knew who the band were when it came out 14 years ago.

This is a long-winded way of saying that Damage, Jimmy Eat World's new album, is essentially a polar opposite of Invented–and that's a great thing. Where Invented tended to run long without a strong enough concept to support said length, Damage is easily the most direct and concise record of the band's career. JEW have always used the "less is more" approach with success, they've just never recorded an entire album like that. Fortunately, it works.

Leading up to the album's release, frontman Jim Adkins remarked that Damage was an "adult breakup record." While this isn't a concept album in the same rigid way as say, David Comes To Life, there's a certain solemnity–not unlike what one might feel after a long relationship ends–that perpetually permeates throughout Damage's ten songs, both lyrically and sonically; the production is noticeably and intentionally airy and rough around the edges, giving off a less canned, more personable and live-sounding listening experience.

Even with its loose concept and loose production, Damage still has all the characteristics that make Jimmy Eat World's music so arresting: Opener "Appreciation," first single "I Will Steal You Back" and the excellent "How'd You Have Me" are massively anthemic rockers with copious hooks and melodies. Heavily strummed acoustic guitars anchor ballads like the title track, "Lean" and the pleasantly atmospheric "Please Say No," the latter also incorporating a few electronic elements into a subtly escalating chorus that almost drowns out the reserved vocals of Adkins. Really, Adkins is pretty reserved throughout Damage, while the music tends to louden and hover over him.

While Damage is relatively mid-tempo throughout, its final two tracks switch that up a bit. "Bye Bye Love" is an overt exercise in the loud/quiet dynamic, with slow, sonically minimal verses that burst into huge, crunchy choruses. Closer "You Were Good" almost sounds like a demo (or an extended Guided By Voices tune from their lo-fi era), with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, some strings and the straightforward vocals of Adkins. It's an appropriate closer, a sort of hushed goodbye that drives the album's theme home.

It's hard to call Damage a comeback for Jimmy Eat World, but it's certainly a nice rebound nonetheless. Fans who dismissed the band as being on autopilot after Invented was released should give Damage a try; they'll find a band that's focused, relatable and on top of their game.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
keithybobeefy (September 5, 2013)

I really liked this when it first came out and it's grown on me even more. The whole promise of it being "an adult break-up" record works. The band pulls it off so well.

originaljohnny (June 14, 2013)

jimmy eat world has been my favorite band for 13 years, since clarity, like almost everyone else more or less - except for the super diehards following the band before that time - respect. i still feel like it's a little early to comment on this album, still processing. and yes i agree that invented was terrible - there were 4 or 5 songs i actually really liked and the rest were garbage. for me though, the minimalist approach may have eliminated needless wandering, but it hasn't lent any quality to this release. listen to track 3 - the rhythm is EXACTLY the same as "carry you" from chase this light, even the vocal pattern follows an almost identical rhythmic pattern. it's just so lame-sounding, and totally uninspired. this phrase gets thrown around WAY too much in hip reviews, but this is jimmy eat world's version of "dad rock".

i'm not going to argue that chase this light is great - although i do love that album - i understand people hate it. in my opinion though, THAT was the album where jimmy eat world did a great job championing minimalism and straight-to-the-point delivery. sure songs like "dizzy" and the title track opened up a bit, but they were memorable pop songs that had some power to them. if they were too "glossy" for your ear, i get that, but at least i could get to the feeling behind them. the ho-hum acoustic-ish feel of many of the middle songs on this record like "book of love", "i will steal you back" - these songs just feel so empty to me. i heard great things about "please say no", and REALLY tried to get into this song - no dice. the hook is so much weaker than what this band is capable of. it reminds me of contemporary christian pop music. sometimes, the song sounds eerily like "cut", from Invented, another song that drags on and just doesn't grab.

i'll never not love this band, and sometimes i wonder if i myself am holding them to too high of a standard - they have set their own bar high in the past. but i just can't get on board with the acclaim over this album, even in some instances where some faults are being acknowledged. where it avoids aimlessness, it still lacks the genuine power and "arresting" qualities that JEW's best material captures so well. here's hoping it grows on me.

1776 (June 13, 2013)

"Not that facts matter when you're just acting like a dummy on the internet."

This from the source who reported Rise Against invented melodic hardcore.

greg0rb (June 13, 2013)

Bleed American is my fav cuz I prefer their poppy stuff over their emo stuff, but Clarity is a close 2nd for sure.

elliot (June 13, 2013)

How anyone could list anything other than Clarity as their favorite Jimmy Eat World record is beyond me. Of course, I guess people have "opinions" and whatnot.

EchosMyron (June 12, 2013)

I'll take Deep Elm-era Brandtson over these chumps any day.

paulrulzdood (June 12, 2013)

great review! Puts my thoughts into words exactly, I agree 100%. Much different than Invented, sparse/stripped down production, raw and organic feeling, live feeling, lots of acoustic guitars in the layers of sound, 10 tracks, concise, focused albeit a bit safe and flat at times and lacking the truly massive hooks of their 2001-2007 albums. But still solid and pretty tight, much more focused than Invented, which was all over the place I thought and incohesive (and most of the experiments on it weren't that great). This album just works better. But in the end, it's no "bleed American", "clarity" or "futures", maybe not even as good as "chase this light", but it's enjoyable none-the-less for a band's 7th album. "please say no" could be my favorite, yet another classic ballad.


danwazz (June 12, 2013)

Best album since Futures for me. Invented missed more than it hit, but I'm a JEW fanboy, and like everything they put out. Some really catchy songs and enough substance to keep it in rotation for a while.

Scruffy (June 12, 2013)

"hey here's Renaldo's most recent review scores: 8, 7, 8, 7, 6, 6, 9, 8, 7, 8, 9, 9, 10, 8, 8, 9, 8, 7, 7

Not that facts matter when you're just acting like a dummy on the internet. Classic Scruffy."


Josiah (June 12, 2013)

Man. A lot of hate for "Invented." I actually really liked that album. I do also enjoy this album. It took a few listens. The first time through I honestly thought about writing it off completely as I was left with an overwhelming sense of 'meh.' Then a couple more listens and certain lines, choruses and songs started standing out. Is it as strong as 'Clarity,' 'Bleed American' or 'Futures'? No. It is much better than 'Chase the Light' and I guess slightly better than 'Invented.'

I am starting to think though that my favourite JEW release is the 'Stay on My Side' EP. That may just be because of how much I love 'Disintegration.'

BrainTrust (June 12, 2013)

Much better than "Invented". Seeing them soon in Luxembourg, looking forward to that.

colin (June 12, 2013)

also, fuck any and all of the art associated with this album. i don't know if it would be a bigger fail if they were trying to be ironic or legitimate with it.

colin (June 12, 2013)

god, what? 4 stars?

i mean, i am a huge jimmy eat world fan, but this album is 2/5 at best. either i've outgrown the band, or i'm missing something. but this is just, not good at all. the last two songs are solid-ish, but even the over-rated futures is miles above this.

Hasheesh (June 11, 2013)

I honestly like Invented way more than this.

mikexdude (June 11, 2013)

Watch out, Scruffy, he may kick you off the website.

daveyjones (June 11, 2013)

"it's easy to forget that no one really knew who the band were when it came out 14 years ago."

are you kidding? everyone in the scene at that time had followed them since static prevails, and clarity was an extremely anticipated release. i, like, many, bought it the day it came out. of course, this all depends on how old you are. but it's not fair to say that 'no one knew them' in 1999 when you were in high school when futures came out.

daveyjones (June 11, 2013)

four stars? really? wow. no accounting for taste.

conebone69 (June 11, 2013)

Even Chase This Light was better than this.

bryne (June 11, 2013)

hey here's Renaldo's most recent review scores: 8, 7, 8, 7, 6, 6, 9, 8, 7, 8, 9, 9, 10, 8, 8, 9, 8, 7, 7

Not that facts matter when you're just acting like a dummy on the internet. Classic Scruffy.

Scruffy (June 11, 2013)

Really, Renaldo? You give everything 5 stars, and yet Clarity, one of the only truly perfect albums ever recorded by anyone is, at the least, 4th on your list of Jimmy Eat World albums?

Not to slight this record. This is easily the best thing they've done since Futures, and, while it doesn't hit the heights of that record, it is far more consistent.

Renaldo69 (June 11, 2013)

Bleed America, Futures...then this. But JEW never really disappoints...at all

ak3punk (June 11, 2013)

I've been a fan ever since "bleed american". "Futures" will always be my favorite JEW album, but I am very excited to spend some time with this new album. They've always put out quality work and I'm sure this album will be no different.

Great review!

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