After releasing their first three albums under Capitol Records Jimmy Eat World were looking for a new label to sign under because they weren’t being represented well in countries other than North America. They also wanted to make sure that they would have control over their touring schedule, and not to be controlled over the writing of their records. Dreamcast Records was willing to let Jimmy Eat World have that kind of control. The first album on the new label, Bleed American (also called self-titled), was mostly a success having the two popular singles “The Middle” and “Sweetness”, which are arguably their most popular songs. Bleed American met with a small amount of criticism. Many called the band emo when that was the exact label that Jimmy Eat World had been trying to escape from. They aren’t emo in any way however because emo is short for emotional post-hardcore, and Jimmy Eat World is mostly an alternative rock band.
The lyrics for all of Bleed American are usually well thought out, and inspirational. Many songs try to encourage a change in lifestyle for the better. “A Praise Chorus” is one of those songs. It seems almost pop-punk, but only in the beginning before Jim starts singing. “Are you going to live your life standing in the back looking around" Are you going to waste your time" Got to make a move or you’ll miss out. Someone is going to ask you what it’s all about.” The lyrics for “My Sundown” make it fitting as the closing song to the album. “I see it around me. I see it in everything. I could be so much more than this. I said my goodbyes. This is my sundown. I’m going to be so much more than this.” Jim Adkins has slowly become one of my favorite lyricists in the world of alternative rock. “If You Don’t, Don’t” continues to fortify my belief. “I’m sorry that I’m such a mess. I drank all my money could get. Took everything that you had and never loved you back. Would you mean this please if it happens"” “Get It Faster” has some amazing lyrics too even though there isn’t a lot to be heard. “I don’t care what you do, I’m getting out, no nothing ever shames me. Don’t want a thing from you. I’m going out; I don’t care if you’re angry. I should have thought things through. I’m holding out, but not getting an answer. I want to do right by you, but I find out cheating gets it faster.”
“The Middle” is the first, and more popular single off of Bleed American. The lyrics are really good, and inspiring to me to be original and to not let other peoples opinions affect my own. “You know they’re all the same. You know you’re doing better on your own so don’t buy in. Live right now. Just be yourself. It doesn’t matter if that’s good enough for someone else.” There is a cool guitar solo near the half end that fits the song well. The bass isn’t to special, and seems to only hang around. Jim’s singing isn’t the best on here, but is still solid. This song is definitely one of my favorites on the album and is a really great song. It’s a good choice for a single because it represents the album well as a whole. “Sweetness” is the other single off of this album. I like this better musically as well as vocally. Jim Adkins singing is eloquent, especially during the parts where he sings “I was spinning free, with a little sweet and simple numbing me”, and “This sweetness will not be concerned with me.” The actual lyrics are fair enough, but definitely aren’t brilliant. This is also great choice for a single and is one of my favorites on the album. The record starts out heavily with the song, “Bleed American”. It starts out with a pounding drum, bass, and guitar beat, which soon transfers over into the verse. The lyrics are fair enough, but aren’t the finest. The chorus is really catchy with frontman Jim Adkins singing, “Salt, sweat, sugar on the asphalt. Our hearts littering the topsoil.” There is also a fast little guitar solo that compliments the song well, and then the chorus repeats a couple more times before the song ends. Jimmy Eat World’s heavier songs aren’t always the best compared to their quieter ones, but this is an obvious standout.
There are plenty of guest spots on this album. Davey Vonbohlen, Rachel Haden, and Ariel Rechtshaid are backup vocalists on some songs. Rachel Haden’s appearance on “Hear You Me” is made even lovelier when a piano, and organ accompany the song. The greatest part is when she, and Jim sing, “May angels lead you in, hear you me my friends” together. Davey’s contribution to “A Praise Chorus” is excellent, particularly when he, and Jim sing as a duo. Rachel makes another appearance, but this time Ariel Rechtshaid is alongside her in “If You Don’t, Don’t”, which is one of the best songs for Bleed American. The solo played at the end with Ariel chanting at the same time is one of the most memorable moments to be had listening to the record. “The Authority Song” is the most up-beat song on the whole album. It’s certainly a welcome change of pace though. There’s no real chorus here, but the lyrics are still appealing with superior singing from Jim, and once again Rachel Haden.
“Get It Faster” starts out slowly with a low palm-muted guitar at the beginning of the song that goes on for over a minute. Some people might want to skip this part. Then Jim finally starts singing with the palm-muted guitar, and some programming still hanging about until all of the instruments come in blazing. At 2:25 when the singing from Jim stops one guitar plays some distorted notes, and the other plays a smooth catchy line off of the other. Eventually it slows down again, and repeats the verse, pre-chorus, and the chorus before ending around the 4:20 mark. It’s another fantastic song that is different from the rest of the album.
There are plenty of good things about this album. Jim is a stellar singer, and his lyrics are meaningful. The production of the album is well done for the most part, and then a lot of guest vocals for a few songs are nice. There are a couple of small problems however. Some songs while not exactly average do tend to lean towards being so causing Bleed American to sometimes hit a bump in the road. The instruments are all wonderful except the bass, which is basically an afterthought most of the time. This is Jimmy Eat World’s album that really got them recognized all over the world, and they rightfully earned that recognition with an album that doesn’t have any bad songs on it at all.