Review Summary: “If you can learn to love it, you just might like it. You can't live without it.”
“They pretend, to be so above it all. Or so they would have you think, I think, no one thinks at all”
“Dear You” was the first Jawbreaker record I’ve ever heard. Yeah, I said that. Anyone can tell you, that you become a very biased listener when you start in latter part of a bands discography; especially if the latter is completely different that the past. With Jawbreaker, this is the case. Accustomed to the “cleaner” vocals of Blake Schwarzenbach, I was immediately put off by his raspier early years. As a result I have listened to “Dear You” the most out of their discography. Although I eventually become adjusted to their earlier albums, “Dear You” not only stands as my personal favorite, but a worthy addition the bands established history, Not to mention one of the best mainstream punk albums of the ‘90s.
Although their previous albums have always had a dark undertone hidden underneath a upbeat punk tone, “Dear You” takes the darkness that was layered down, and brings it to the foreground. Songs like “Fireman,” and “Lurker II” alone set this album apart from anything else the group had recorded up to it. The bass guitar is less prevalent in the production, and instead the down-tuned guitars riddled with a near-haunting distortion are cranked. Often times it feels that guitar is complimenting Schwarzenbach’s voice, to create a disturbing atmosphere, which the bass and drums are supporting. There are tracks that sound very reminiscent to their older sound however, such as, “Million”, and “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault,” which combines their young punk years, with new sound of Schwarzenbach’s vocals.
Schwarzenbach’s lyrical talent is the definite highlight of the album though. Covering topics of disgruntled relationships (“Sluttering”), the dying punk scene (“Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault”), and promoting the youth to change their ways for a better future, in which the present generation has neglected (“Save Your Generation”). Schwarzenbach’s true skill as a songwriter lies in way he words his lyrics. This is most prevalent in “Unlisted Track”
“You might show some interest, your world looks good enough to eat. I see the ghost of a better world
living in the disbelief in ghosts”
The greatest commodity that this album has to offer is in its accessibility. As mention in my introduction I was attracted to this album for cleaner vocals, and eventually grew to love the old rasp of Jawbreaker. This allows listeners with a low tolerance for gritty vocals a chance to learn just who Jawbreaker was, and essentially send them in an invitation to travel back to 1989 and listen to their earlier records.
“Anyway, there she sat,
Totally kissing this guy.
They looked good, I mean like in love.
Then I remembered my friend.
He said, ‘How could you do this?
You said that you needed your space.
He's wearing the shirt that I gave you.’
Then she said, ‘Why, why, oh why, oh why,
Why are you always like this?
If I'm having fun then it's breaking your heart.
Besides, you said I could have it.’
Then the cops showed up.”