Can any good come from my criticizing the work of hometown heroes/local legends/scene benefactors/all-around nice guys Jimmy Eat World? Answer: No. They're more important than me, richer than me, more musically talented than me, and have millions more fans than me.
When I moved here from Chicago five years ago, all that I really knew about them was that video in which the guy's running around at a party in his underwear. Or maybe it was the partygoers in their undies. To me, they were just another flavor-of-the-week alt-rock act with a clever music video. Then I was told that their record called Clarity
was some kind of super-influential record. We even wrote a story
, complete with dubious claims and specious reasoning, about how damn awesome Clarity
was. Listened to it. Didn't move me one bit.
Now there's a new record coming out on September 28, the Mesa band's first since 2007. I can't be a homer regarding Jimmy Eat World. So, sorry about that, Phoenix. The thing is, I kinda can't stand this record. A few flashes of greatness notwithstanding, it's sounds like a lot of hokum to me. Worse, it almost sounds [in whisper voice] Christian. And if there's one thing I can't stand, it's Christian rock.
The album actually starts off a high note in "Heart Is Hard to Find," with an aggressively strummed acoustic guitar, hand claps, and some really good opening lines: "I can't complete with the clear eyes of strangers / I'm more and more replaced by my friends each night." The folky stomper introduces a cool string arrangement and, suddenly, I'm feeling good about the prospects of Invented.
It was some time during track nine, "Cut," that I looked down and found myself wringing my hands. This album was stressing me out. The goodwill earned during "Heart" had all but evaporated. Is this really what emo is/has become? I remember emo as Dischord Records, circa 1986. Rites of Spring/Embrace/Dag Nasty. Jimmy Eat World's Invented sounds like Pieces of Eight-era Styx, but without the potential for hits.
The title track, despite its seven-minute length, is my favorite song on the record. The second-to-last song on the record, it's a slow (and slow-burning) song with some pretty female harmonies. In it, the narrator seems to singing about the unrequited love that's going on in his head. Then it kicks into a wall of sound finale. It was one of the few times on the record where I got "real" without all the cloying earnestness found throughout.
Track three, "Evidence," has a great, soaring, two-chord chorus that seems effortless and seems to be where Jimmy Eat World appear most comfortable with their prowess. More songs like that, please. The stylistic detours (from the Michael Jackson-esque "Higher Devotion" to the Bad Religion knock-off "Action Needs an Ambulance") throughout give me the impression that Jimmy Eat World trying to be all things to all people. How often does that approach work?
Kudos to Jimmy Eat World for being good guys who help out local acts, live locally, hang out at clubs, make appearances, and generally represent the Valley well. It's great to see local acts make it big. And these guys are clearly consummate pros with no shortage of talent.
Just don't make me listen to them, 'k?
I'd rather listen to: Styx's epic "Come Sail Away," an obviously huge influence on our favorite Mesans.
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment