By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
By Derek Askey
Long dysfunctional relationships can be trying for anyone; therefore, in the spirit of purging, it's best to celebrate the conclusions when they finally arrive. Local indie-rock demigods Jimmy Eat World have celebrated the end of their tortuous relationship with Capitol Records by releasing two records that bookend the band's current aural incarnation: Singles, a collection of early seven-inchers and compilation tracks spanning the last half decade, and a split EP with Australia's Jebediah, featuring three new songs. This double dose ought to sate fans eager for new material until the full-length the band is currently working on with longtime producer Mark Trombino is complete.
The Singles record, though not as consistent as the band's two Capitol long-players, Static Prevails and Clarity, provides a context for the development of JEW's evolving songcraft. It opens with two power-chord-driven numbers, "Opener" and "77 Satellites," both sung by guitarist Tom Linton. These days Linton has relinquished his share of the vocal duties to fellow guitarist (and Go Big Casino mastermind) Jim Adkins. While both songs hold their own in the JEW repertoire, the move to a single vocalist is perhaps one of the band's brightest decisions; Linton's gravelly tone and Adkins' impassioned, high pitch always seemed strange bedfellows.
The highlights of Singles are the hushed, ethereal "New Religion," the plaintive "Spangle" (which the Get Up Kids' Matt Pryor was obviously listening to when he recorded his New Amsterdams side project; the similarities border on plagiarism), and the stuttering, squalling instrumental "Ramina," which demonstrates the two guitarists' uncanny chemistry as well as anything the band has recorded.
Comparing the Singles collection with the three new tracks on the split reveals the obvious progression of Jimmy Eat World's sound; the plush wall of guitars, à la Jesus and Mary Chain, is the culmination of several not-quite-realized Singles predecessors.
This rich production aesthetic can be attributed to Adkins' recording of the songs -- hey, if you're gonna split with a major label, you may as well go completely DIY (the band's Web site, www.jimmyeatworld.net, humorously explains that "after Capitol dropped us, they were no longer sending us their sheet music of new songs, so we had to learn how to write songs ourselves").The trio of cuts, "The Most Beautiful Things," "No Sensitivity" and "Cautioners," exhibits a sonic sophistication that hints at Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins. The explosions of "No Sensitivity," with its "I'm taking my kisses back, I want my kisses back from you" chorus, validates JEW's status in the pantheon of addictive pop acts, while "Cautioners" picks up where Clarity left off, with looping drums and somber, New Wave-ish delivery echoing beautifully.
There's not much to say about the Jebediah tracks on the split. The Aussie combo is a platinum-selling act in its homeland, yet when held side by side with Jimmy Eat World's latest output, its songs seem completely unremarkable. Vaguely pop-punk and definitely not without merit, Jebediah sounds best when on its own. The curious should check out the band's new stateside release Of Someday Shambles for a more accurate portrait