When an "indie" band more or less writes its breakout record, they tend to run the risk of alienating its previous fanbase; however, they usually manage it in a successful manner where it manages to retain much of those previous listeners while gaining a multitude of newcomers. While Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American didn't quite attain the cult favorite status that 1999's Clarity did over time, seven years later it holds up incredibly well despite its singles arguably being overplayed to the point of redundancy.
The Bleed American title was hastily stripped from the artwork by Dreamworks a mere number of weeks after its original release in 2001 thanks to post-9/11 chest-beating, rendering it as self-titled even though the band already released a self-titled full-length in 1994 and EP in 1998. Time has soothed the blind patriotism and Geffen has thankfully restored the original title to the album with this two-disc deluxe edition.
As with Geffen's classic-looking deluxe edition series, Bleed American comes in a thick, crisp-looking four-panel digipak and bears a second disc full of B-Sides and alternative versions. Though there are only lyrics for a few of the unreleased bonus tracks as opposed to all, there are a few more photos and EP/single artwork covers shown off to stretch out the liner notes.
The album itself is left untouched, and it's surprising how much the thing still plain rocks. The 1-2 punch of the perfectly gritty chorus of the opening title track and then Davey von Bohlen (then of the Promise Ring, now of Maritime) guesting in the energetic "A Praise Chorus" hits hard. My dopey 15-year-old self never quite realized the cheeky rock references abundant in "A Praise Chorus," nor would I have picked up on the Jesus and Mary Chain namedrop in "The Authority Song"; in retrospect, the latter makes for a funny parallel to Death Cab for Cutie's "We Looked Like Giants." The huge singles -- "The Middle," "Sweetness" -- are still respectably catchy pop numbers as well.
There are so many extras tacked on, though, that Geffen even has to squeeze three of them onto Disc 1 ('The Original Album'). All three here are legit rare tracks that hardcore fans might already have, but they're all pretty good; "No Sensitivity" and "(Splash) Turn Twist" bear huge mid-`90s vibes, since the former sounds like the most thorough modernization of Texas Is the Reason JEW is capable of and the latter is pure Blue Album channeling.
On Disc 2, 'B-Sides and Bonus Tracks,' only five of the 18 tracks aren't just alternative or live takes on Bleed American songs, but the track listing is ordered so they make for nice nugget-like treats in between the bits of familiarity. "Firestarter," from the Last Christmas single, is slow and fairly demonic, since it's a Prodigy cover; however, it could be compared to Clarity if it wasn't for its hot-tongued lines like "I'm the bitch you hated / ... / The pain you tasted." "Spangle" is an interesting, subtle electro-indie pop effort taken from the Good to Go EP. None of the alternative takes really beat out the originals, but the acoustic "If You Don't, Don't" (from the UK The Middle single) is nice, the version of "A Praise Chorus" (off the Good to Go EP) plays up the scrappiness well and the live take on "Sweetness" sounds pretty huge. "The Authority Song" from the German Bleed American single is cool to hear since many of the lyrics are altered.
Bleed American [Deluxe Edition] is done commendably here, with many of the 71 minutes on the bonus disc proving worthwhile for fans of the original album, which, to this day, arguably ranks pretty high in Jimmy Eat World's discography.
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