Despite their mixed musical output over the years, Jimmy Eat World will always be part of the emo canon; I reckon anyone who says they don’t enjoy at least one Jimmy Eat World song is lying. However, it often seems that the band never quite managed to find their feet after ‘The Middle’, with their later releases being a mish-mash of quality. Fortunately, their 8th album ‘Damage‘ is ten tracks of introspectively brilliant emo, taking the band back-to-basics as they deliberate on love and loss.
Opener ‘Appreciation’ is a break-up song but not one of the usual standards. Jimmy Eat World have honed their craft, filling the track with catchy riffs and upbeat drums, as James Adkins declares “we build, we box, we carry on”. The main subject matter may be about heartbreak, but this is an anthem about picking up the pieces as well.
Next track ‘Book of Love’ is a beautiful, country-tinged number. Incredibly similar to The Movielife’s opus ‘Hey’; it’s refreshing to hear such a pared-back track when the rest of the album is so glossily produced. It’s destined to be a fan favourite, which is fortunate as next track ‘Bye Bye Love’ is painfully dull, endlessly repeating itself over a four-minute span. It’s dire to listen to, but is redeemed by album title-track ‘Damage’; a superbly catchy exploration of the lasting effects of love, which poses the question “Are we too damaged now to possibly connect, to ever reconnect?”
Next track ‘How’d You Have Me’ and grungy single ‘I Will Steal You Back’ both re-tread familiar territory, picking over the aftermath of a broken relationship, while ‘Lean’ acknowledges the feelings of dependence and selfishness that can cause a relationship to crumble. There’s a strong story arc present in this record, and you can feel each part of the break-up as Jimmy Eat World display their wounds for all to see, relentlessly picking them open.
‘No, Never’ seems to hint at infidelity, as Adkin’s pleads “I’d be lying if I told you it was just a kiss, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t more to it” before declaring “say goodbye or get over it”. After so many break-up anthems, it’s interesting to hear a song from the perspective of the guilty party. ‘Please Say No’ seems to backpedal on this, as Adkin’s ponders what could happen if “one last time we went and did this right.” It conveys the mixed feelings of emotion that a split can bring, but without seeming contradictory. Choosing to turn their backs on their usual dramatic closing tracks, Jimmy Eat World finishes ‘Damage’ with simple, stripped-back number ‘You Were Good’.
Overall, ‘Damage’is essentially a ten-track ode to breaking up, with emotive lyrics piled over slick production and stirring guitars. There’s no breakout singles, but the album as a whole is cohesive and catchy. ‘Damage’ is the best album Jimmy Eat World has released since ‘Futures’, and confirms that even after two decades, Jimmy Eat World have still got it.
‘Damage’ by Jimmy Eat World is out now via RCA UK.
Words by Jay Sullivan.