Jimmy Eat World
Damage


2.0
poor

Review

by Nathan Flynn CONTRIBUTOR (68 Reviews)
June 11th, 2013 | 34 replies


Release Date: 06/11/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Damaged goods

As someone with little experience in the fields of adulthood and breakups, I was left with plenty of questions when Jim Adkins announced his group’s latest effort would be an “adult breakup record.” As far as I could tell, all breakups are fundamentally the same; perhaps the parting of adults is more amicable and less hormonally-charged than that of two young adults or twenty-somethings, but the sting of being told, or telling, you are incompatible with another human, someone who was once the center of your world, must still feel the same, right? Bearing this question in mind, I approached Damage as an opportunity to hear the traditional breakup record handled with grace and flipped on its head.

In the past, Jimmy Eat World had never shied away from writing about difficult topics or stretching their boundaries as musicians. Clarity’s closer “Goodbye Sky Harbor” sits at more than 16 minutes long, nearly half the length of Damage, and has a 13 minute coda section; Futures was notable for its sonic diversity and Adkins’ willingness to tackle topics ranging from virginity loss to addiction but, most importantly, his ability to connect with the listener on an emotional level. Where Damage really falters is its inability to carry any sort of emotional weight. Adkins’ words are diluted by the inoffensiveness of the arrangements. Each track is distinguishable from the others, with few exceptions, only through the lyrics as jangly guitar chords and Zach Lind’s trademark, dangerously treading the line of formulaic after the eighth time around, hi-hat rhythms are methodically driven like a stake through the listener’s ears with barely even a tempo change to stave off the boredom. Even Adkins’ usually energetic vocals sound bored remaining within their allotted octave.

Furthermore, the only sign of maturity that may be gleaned from this ‘adult’ record, aside from the general passivity of those involved in it, is the acoustic guitar, which found itself as the album’s centerpiece in earlier drafts, but has been overshadowed by the rest of the band for the official release. The lyrically confounding ballad “Please Say No” is an exception, with the slight chords and graceful cymbal taps slowly building into a piano-driven last verse with the electric guitar providing support. It’s a strong display of craftsmanship, a good example of why Jimmy Eat World has remained relevant for as long as they have, but the lyrics prove to be its undoing. In, I assume, his quest to appear mature, Adkins imbues his lyrics with a strong taste of stoicism that occasionally sound childish (“Goodbye, I’ll get over it”), but more often are just uninspiring. All the typical post-breakup emotions- nostalgia, desire to rekindle the feelings, loneliness, sadness and spite- are glossed over, always acknowledged but never dissected.

Maybe that’s what feeling adult is like: having gone through the motions so many times you know exactly what to feel, so it’s more a chore than anything else. Damage is its own form of a chore. Adkins dutifully pushes the buttons of his faithful disciples who have stuck around through the thin of the past two albums, trying to pass this off as “raw” by recording it in a house using Pro Tools (it’s actually incredibly polished), performing in a way that is undeniably ‘their style’ and penning a few sing-along choruses that will have them recalling days of “The Middle.” The rest is the band punching the clock, giving a baseline effort to an album born with the potential to challenge the conventions of the breakup album but ultimately takes the road more frequently traveled.



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user ratings (221)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

2.2/5

Cygnatti
June 11th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I love the review score. Brb reading review.

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Immunity

nakedmolerat
June 11th 2013


21 Comments


Really wish I didn't agree with you

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013


19757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

U are one cynical bastard lol

I disagree about this having no emotional weight but well-written,etc

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

minty901
June 11th 2013


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i look forward to reading this review.

Cygnatti
June 11th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

excellent review.

minty901
June 11th 2013


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

its well-written, but i disagree with all of it, and think it's a shame people may read this review and be wrongly put off from checking out this beautiful album.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013


10207 Comments


If people decide such things, that's on them and not the reviewer. I decided that a long time ago-- it's up to us to let ourselves hear multiple viewpoints without letting them determine our opinions.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013


19757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

don't worry minty i'm about to post mine so there will be more positive reviews than negative : )

fromdahood i think you had WAY to high of expectations...

"I approached Damage as an opportunity to hear the traditional breakup record handled with grace and flipped on its head."

never go into a record with expectations like that : P also the mentions of blue sky harbor and futures makes me feel like you were just hoping for another album like that which is unreasonable.



Cygnatti
June 11th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

If people decide such things, that's on them and not the reviewer. I decided that a long
time ago-- it's up to us to let ourselves hear multiple viewpoints without letting them determine our
opinions.


yep. it's not like the reviewer is outright saying "omg this is so bad, don't ever listen to this,
please, for the sake of your sanity and ears, do not listen to dis!!!!"

Cygnatti
June 11th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

"fromdahood i think you had WAY to high of expectations... never go into a record with expectations
I really don't like it when people say this. This and when people rhetorically ask: "well, what did you expect?" It's completely impossible to NOT have expectations.

How would you feel if you're favorite alt rock band suddenly goes glam metal on you?! And if you'd review that album, whether or not you liked it, how can you possibly write it without making comments about their previous albums?

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"never go into a record with expectations like that"

Expecting that they'll be trying something different? I thought that was implied by his comments. Maybe the way I phrased it made it sound like I was expecting a massive stylistic experiment but I wasn't. I was just hoping to hear something that doesn't sound as samey as this did.

The mentions of Futures and Clarity were just to emphasize how JEW were willing to sound different in the past and juxtapose that with this album. Clarity, after all, is my 4th favorite JEW album. I wouldn't necessarily want them to make a carbon copy of it.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013


10207 Comments


Yeah we all have expectations, as stunted as they may be.

Nathan does a good job here of justifying his high ones, and why they didn't quite deliver. And I think the review would lack its meaning if he'd gone into it without expectations, because expectations are the creation of albums' contexts. I expect certain things from an album because of the impressions I've received from it, and those impressions are important to deal with, I think.

But Atari does bring up a good point-- maybe a more qualified thing to say would be that it sometimes pays off to approach an album from a different angle, maybe if your expectations weren't going to be sated in any way.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013


10207 Comments


Some of that is meaningless drivel, but at least I may have hit a good point or two.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013


19757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

lol i wasn't trying to be a dick. You're a great writer and the review was good - I just got the feeling you were expecting a little too much out of this but considering you were disappointed with Invented it makes sense you were anticipating something different.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I understand you weren't trying to be dickish, I just felt like I should respond because if seemed you
misconstrued what I wrote

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013


19757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

my bad. everybody is entitled to their opinion and like i said it was well-written maybe we were just expecting something different ;)

Jom
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013


2676 Comments


This review came up on my stalker feed for ByVolume, I think. It reads very familiar, like I've seen it before. I think it's a good review, but I certainly hope you aren't as pessimistic and aloof about any of your relationships as you seem to indicate in your review opener, because damn, homie! No wonder you have little experience with that stuff (unless you're one of the fortunate/insane ones who found his soulmate the first time out), ha!

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Damn I wish it came up on your byvolume feed (that was Adam Knott's writing btw, I didn't read it but I read the blurb).

as far as my attitude toward relationships goes, I've had some rough experiences (getting dumped by my 1st "girlfriend" when I tried to kiss her was a doozy. fuckin middle school.) but I've overcome my stunted emotional development for the most part. Still a bit cynical I guess but improving daily.

Sanders
June 11th 2013


2351 Comments


hey, that's better than being dumped because you kissed her, right?



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