Review Summary: The full realization of the band's pop rock sound that sounds cheerier and more celebratory than ever.
The hardest part of writing reviews is starting. I like to start with an abstract idea that relates to the music and segue my way into more meticulous description. Formulaic? Maybe, but it has proven effective. Often times, my ideas for the starting of a review comes like a wave of realization whilst listening to the album, but when I listen to Jimmy Eat World’s Chase This Light
, all I can do is bob my head and enjoy the music. Oddly enough, this is not due to a lack of emotion or musicianship from the band, or poor songwriting, but rather the mood of the music. Chase This Light
is the band’s final evolution into pop rock, almost completely abandoning their beginnings as an emo band.
Where Bleed American sugarcoated Clarity
kept a dark vibe underneath its sound, the latest release from Jimmy Eat World sounds completely celebratory. “Big Casino”, both the opening track and lead single, set up the mood and atmosphere perfectly with huge choruses and carefree lyrics. Adkins gleefully celebrates his success all while making a metaphor for the entire industry, seeing it as each band picked out of a random library. Producer Butch Vig accentuates their quiet to loud song structure by making the two dynamics extremely different, and the choruses now sound immense. In the actual songwriting, the band stacks the chords with screaming guitar notes high above the rest of the sound. Luckily, despite the quality of “Big Casino”, the album gets better from that point. “Always Be” combines perfected songwriting with catchy fingersnaps and handclaps, a perfect symbol for the band’s final entrance into pure pop rock. “Electable (Give It Up)” takes the anthemic energy of “Sweetness” and injects it with steroids, improved by the production and the smarter lyrics. “Here It Goes” rounds out the catchier songs on the album with a departure from the band’s typical sound, inputting synths and dance beats as Adkins leads with his infectious vocal melodies, the combination making quite possibly the most catchy Jimmy Eat World song to date.
As with almost all the band’s other albums, Chase This Light
balances itself out between catchy pop rock and more atmospheric ballads. “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues” steps out into new territory with droning strings and their most air-like song since Clarity, condensing the overly drawn out ideas explored on the Stay On My Side Tonight EP. The bassline and guitar progression present subtle blues inflections, but the strings and darker atmosphere stand out among the rest of the album’s cheery atmosphere. “Carry You” revolves around an acoustic guitar riff, bringing the energy down after the relentlessly catchy opening three songs. Here, the energetic numbers outnumber the ballads heavily, but due to the tone of the album, it fits together nicely. Lyrical lines spread all around the album flow as if from a different pen than the one used on the band’s past five albums, from “I’m a New Jersey success story” to “The beauty is in what you make it”, Adkins spins lyrics of hope rather than portraying lost love or his other usual subjects.
Overall, Chase This Light
takes the pop rock sound of their latest albums and perfects the style, complemented with Butch Vig’s flawless production skills. Again, the choruses sound bigger and catchier than ever. The superb vocal harmonies always laced throughout the band’s music makes its biggest appearance ever, adding a whole new depth to the sound. What changes from their previous records, however, is the feel-good, cheery atmosphere presented in a few songs on Bleed American
that fully spreads its wings here. Amidst heavy-hitter releases from Radiohead, Thrice, Coheed and Cambria, and others, Chase This Light
might be overlooked, but in time, the catchiness of the record will find the airwaves and Jimmy Eat World might once again find themselves on top.