I have a confession to make. Through my high school years of listening to The Get Up Kids, The Starting Line, New Found Glory, Weezer, etc. I never really gave Jimmy Eat World a chance. Once I finally did, I wondered how my past years could’ve been enhanced by the sounds of the band, especially their 2001 album, Bleed American.
I absolutely love this album for a number of reasons. The first reason is the music; the strong, power-pop sound of the band with Jim Adkins’ howling voice over it all. The music is so engaging with its simplicity while being consistently meaningful. There aren’t any fretboard-burning guitar solos or complex chord progressions, but the music fits perfectly to their sound and their intent.
Next, the songs are incredibly catchy, well-written, and emotional. People will have no problem throwing Jimmy Eat World into that dreaded “emo” genre of music, which I still don’t even understand what that means. If “emo” means music that expresses the heart and soul of the singer/songwriter to an extreme degree, then I would agree with that assessment. Heck, any song that doesn’t exploit true and raw emotion is a level underneath songs that do.
But not only are the songs catchy and emotional, they’re very tight with themes and situations. Even though there is definitely a “high school” pop-punk vibe in the album, it’s incredible how much of that stuff can carry over past the teenage years, which makes sense since Jim Adkins was in his mid-twenties when he wrote the album.
My favorite track off of the album would have to be a more obscure song at the back-end called, “Cautioners.” The song really sticks out from the rest because of its unique and eerie sound, which is a departure from the guitar-heavy, pop-punk album. With the off-beat drum rhythm and the succint guitar melodies in front of the constant ringing guitar harmonies, it all creates almost a dream-like illusion to accompany the story. And what a story this song tells. The lyrics are quick and straight-forward, with only two verses and a repeated verse, but the power within this song is unmatchable.
“Cautioners” is a song about dealing with a recently lost love and trying to handle the pain of getting over them. For anyone who has ever found themselves in a situation like this, hearing this song will make your heart drop. It’s that incredibly potent.
But don’t think the entire album is a downer like “Cautioners.” The opening track is the album title, “Bleed American” and it’s a flat-out rocking song. It’s a fantastic way to begin the album and to warn the listeners that the content will be a bit edgy.
The upbeat tempo is continued with tracks like “A Praise Chorus”, their insanely popular hit “Sweetness”, and “The Authority Song.” If those up-tempo songs are the third gear, they have a number of songs in the second gear as well such as their breakthrough hit “The Middle”, “Your House”, and “If You Don’t, Don’t.” And finally, their first gear songs (ballads) consist of the beautifully tragic “Hear You Me” and their closing track “My Sundown.”
Bleed American is my favorite album from Jimmy Eat World and will always stay very close to me. I love the numerous references to other bands, which proves how much the band members themselves love music. The album stays consistent and solid through all eleven tracks. Definitely one I can listen to without skipping any tracks.