Review Summary: A wonderfully melodic album from a band that did it for themselves
For starters, the story of Jimmy Eat World alone is reason alone to praise them for what they have achieved in music. Those of you familiar with it may know what I am about to say, those of you who don’t, get this!
‘Bleed American’ (or Jimmy Eat World, as it was renamed after 9/11) is Jimmy’s fourth album. Their previous offerings (in order), ‘Singles’, ‘Static Prevails’ and ‘Clarity’ didn’t sell enough for their record company, ‘Capitol’s (who owned the 2nd and 3rd albums) liking, so as a result the band were dropped. The reaction of the band? Relief! They didn’t enjoy being under Capitol, and they felt that this would give them a new focus and, well, kick up the arse. So they toured relentlessly, with the small fan base they had acquired, in order to make money to record their new album, ‘Bleed American’. After recording the album, they were signed up and they got what they deserved for their hard work.
Its an inspiring story, one that all bands could take comfort from. But was it really worth it, musically?
What do you think?!
Opener ‘Salt Sweat Sugar’ is a ferocious rock n roll dart to the head, with palm-muted riffage and an awesome sing-to-the-sky chorus, its great and a song that reminds you why guitars and drums and bass are a good combination.
The pop rock of ‘A Praise Chorus’ is similarly amazing with a ridiculous amount of hooks. It’s also a song that showcases one of Jimmy’s strengths- their lyrics. Singer Jim Adkins sings “Are you gonna live your life wondering/Standing in the back, looking around?/Are you gonna waste your time thinking, how you’ve grown up/Or how you’ve missed out?” encouraging withdrawn and shy people (which is what the band themselves are) to take a risk and do something in any walk of life, which is definitely something I, and many others, can relate to.
Next song ‘The Middle’ is almost a combination of the previous two songs, with palm muted riffs and arm-round-shoulder lyrics, “It just takes some time/A little bit in the middle at the right/Everything, everything will be just fine/Everything, everything will be alright”, its again a brilliant melodic rock song. They keep on coming don’t they?
Fourth song ‘Your House’ marks a change in direction, with its gentle acoustic shuffle and almost tribal drumming. It’s a song that takes a while to get into but once you’ve got it, you’ll be thankful. It’s a lovely song that talks of broken hearts “I only want you closer/You ripped my heart right out” and one that also marks out the bands musical diversity.
‘Sweetness’ returns to anthemic rock, with crunching and clean guitars contrasting beautifully on the verses, I don’t really need to say its great, do I?
We’re now past the halfway point with, ‘Hear You Me’. What a song. Its beautiful acoustic chords, with Adkins’ voice soaring high, seemingly addressing his fans in troubled times when they were touring self financed “There’s no one in town I know/You gave us someplace to go”. That said, I’m probably talking crap. It’s just great, alright?
‘If You Don’t, Don’t’ continues with human issues, the lyrics a bitter letter to a lover tinged with regret “Should never have started/Aint that just the way it always ends?”, another song with pop rock energy.
‘Get It Faster’ is a defiant, angry flurry of power chords with Adkins standing his ground against doubters and people who hold him back” I don’t care what you do/I’m getting out/Nothing ever shames me”. Needless to say, it must be played very, very loud. Its effing awesome.
‘Cautioners’ seems like an afterthought, what with all the rock n roll, with its slow, palm muted clean riff and laid back, rehearsal-like drums, but you will get it after repeated listens. It’s a great song to listen to when contemplating things, or when you’re alone, or preferably both. That’s when it makes sense. Again it showcases the bands diversity.
Penultimate track ‘The Authority Song’ harks back to the louder moments on the album, with a fantastic guitar riff and chorus. Lyrically it deals with going out on the pull at a bar/pub (depending on if you are English or American) and not wanting to seem too intentional “I’ve got no secret purpose/I don’t seem obvious do I?”, its another example of Jimmy’s lyrical prowess. It’s almost a contradictory song, in the way a boisterous tune is coupled with vunerable lyrics. It could be a representation of the band as a whole… Or I could be talking crap!
Anyway…Final track, ‘My Sundown’ is a piano flecked acoustic number, which is similar to ‘Cautioners’, in the way it works its way into your subconscious after a few listens. It’s a lovely way to end the album.
In summary, this album is essential for fans of great rock n roll. I believe that in general, great albums should have diversity; Bleed American has it in spades.
Lyrically they aim for the heart and involve the listener, its refreshing to hear a rock band sing about problems that normal people like you and I rather than just a load of crap!
I hate picking out certain tracks off any album, as it is derogatory to other tracks, especially of albums as good as this, so get it and see for yourself. It’s amazing to think that a record company dropped them, even if it was for the best. It underlies the sad fact that record companies are generally money grabbing tosspots and don’t care about potential in musicians or bands. However this album is a joy and in my opinion, anyone who likes rock music should find this an excellent addition to his or hers record collection.