Review Summary: i have listened to this album once and
i can't really distinguish between songs or point out specific lyrics or whatever. i have not researched this album and don't know any interesting factoids or it's contemporaneous vs. current reception or anything, although I did note a high rating on our estimable opinion-forming site and on the trash imposter rym but there is something I'd like to convey and that's largely that
i've heard this album before.
i don't mean literally: frankly, before affording it a listen, I assumed the worst of Jimmy Eat World, the only album i'd heard by them so scorned as to lack a definitive title in my hippocampus (i think it came out in, like, 2007?). it struck me as conveying the worst indulgences of the genre: not just grating, strident vocals but said vocals put against a placid background of power-chords interspersed with occasional too-pretty cloying passages, snaking guitar lines set as ouroborus performing the feat of imbibing the vocalists own tail and so I thought I could write off the band as a whole.
no what I mean is I hear so much music I love, that I cherish, strewn throughout the album, which is almost a series of touchstones of music that came before and after and encapsulates them all on one record. normally i'm adverse to playing up comparison angles but I was astonished: I heard bands it's ok for me to like (Minerals confessional, querelous tone, The Wrens' fixation on failure, loss, specific physical locales, poverty, American Footballs guitar lines at their most gorgeous and dovetailing) but also bands I'm not (Death Cab's use of deraciation, dislocation and conceptual consistency, Weezer's unabashed pop digestibility, Manchester Orchestra's knack of finding sadness in aggression) and I heard them all combined on one sprawling, frankly gorgeous (on the first listen at least) album.
and i shouldn't get duped: i am, by the rubric of this site, old, or at least old enough to know better, and it has been so long since I was a teenager, the albums most obvious target audience in terms of accentuated emotion and wish fulfillment of an adult life that, if not better, is at least more authentically sad, when the truth is that after a while sadness becomes passe, boring, or morphs into something much more horrid and cyclical and self-perpetuating, and in many other mediums I find work that deals with adult life, adult problems, adult complexities, infinitely more edifying but
there's something so immediate about music like this that i feel it. i feel it on a level that wipes away the veneer of irony and the persona we (I?) necessarily construct around myself and renders me... me.
put it this way: i remember, the night before i started an adult job, planning to listen to Schoenberg, or maybe a lesser Feldman, or something complex and abstruse at least. instead i spent the night, unable to sleep, playing the same records i played the night before i left home for university: American Football, Diary, Through the Windowpane. it was a comforter but not, i think, in a bad or regressive way. it reminded me that it was ok to feel trepidation, that it was ok to feel long, slow, sadness, that it was ok to feel lonely. i had no other referent to turn to.
Clarity has proved to me I still don't. the summer ended long ago but the tan remains. lyrics this earnest and passionate, guitar tonalities that might as well be injected not heard so quickly do they flutter the heart, bass and drums not quite in lock to accentuate the fervency of emotion rawly-felt, will always move and affect me, through a complex relation of albums unto themselves and their relation to albums that I've needed as balm and prescription in the past, and maybe that's embarrassing or symptoms of some disorder or my parents left me alone too much as child or whatever's in vogue. but i keep coming back to, fittingly, the albums last lyric, the only one i can remember verbatim, one i won't even have to google:
"you are smaller / getting smaller / but i still see you"
so maybe there's something triumphant instead, a tiny victory. life, when things are ***, gets minuscule, but
at least i still see it