Review Summary: Quite simply the best pop-rock album out there due to its catchy, sing-along & memorable qualities.
Before I begin, it should be noted that this album title differs in some markets as it was originally released as 'Bleed American' in July of 2001, but changed to being self-titled months later after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. For the same reason, the opening title track was also referred to as 'Salt Sweat Sugar'.
I actually find a review such as this a little difficult to write. Why? Because I could see my adjectives becoming a little repetitive, especially the trio of "catchy", "sing-along" & "memorable". Amazingly, they are 3 descriptions that you would think a record company would love to have an album described as. So it can only be concluded that being dropped by their record company & having to make their 4th album themselves was exactly the motivation used by Jimmy Eat World to show Capitol Records what they were missing out on.
What Jimmy Eat World has done with Bleed American is taken the more accessible aspects out of their previous very good album 'Clarity' & amped them up a further notch. What does this result in...??? You guessed it, a bunch of catchy, sing-along & memorable tunes that are difficult to dislike. But where the band's real talent comes in is to never allow the individual songs to become too sugary coated. They understand that the teenage girls of the world already have their pop icons & it would be unwise to take them on. They achieve their aim by laying their melodies over strong & often interesting instrumentation.
As if to prove a point, the opening title track immediately has a purpose. With its incessant pace, up-tempo beat & surprising aggressiveness, this 1st single is a perfect opportunity for the band to show off that they can achieve a memorable & catchy song no matter what the background. Although the lyrics are a little bewildering, the vocals are tremendous & this is a sensational opener & one of the album's highlights.
Elsewhere, it is almost easier to look at possible lowlights rather than highlights as it is arguable that there is not one filler track amongst the 11songs here. Hell, even the bonus track of 'Splash Turn Twist' included on most copies of the album is a strong offering. If I was to pick 3 tracks that may cause some dissenting opinion, they would be 2 slower songs towards the end of the album ('Cautioners' & 'My Sundown') as well as 'The Authority Song' which does get mighty close to the line of bubblegum pop. But all 3 are fine & are good album tracks at worst.
Whether it's the aggression of 'Bleed American', the simplistic catchiness intertwined with the self-acceptance lyrical message of mainstream breakthrough 'The Middle', the sing-along "wohs" of 3rd single 'Sweetness', the menacing & memorable 'Get It Faster', or the beauty & emotion of genuine ballad 'Hear You Me', there is a great deal to love about this album.
It contains enough variety, excellent vocals (including fantastic backing vocals) & clever instrumentation throughout to result in a genuinely quality offering. In fact, it is quite simply the best of its kind in the pop-rock (or power-pop) genre. Why...??? Because it's catchy, great to sing-along to & memorable!
Recommended Tracks: Bleed American, Get It Faster, The Middle, Hear You Me & Sweetness.