Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light
“I’ll accept with poise, with grace, when they draw my name from the lottery”
Those are the telling lines in the chorus of “Big Casino”, first single and album opener of Jimmy Eat World’s newest effort Chase This Light. They fit because Jimmy Eat World did seem to win the lottery; in 2002 they had a gigantic hit with “The Middle” off of Bleed American (later changed to Jimmy Eat World). After years of touring the band had finally found mainstream success. They were the new poster boys for the “emo” movement, even though the music press in ‘02 had little-to-no idea what the term meant (and still don’t). This label is rather problematic; the band hasn’t played anything resembling emo since the 1990s. Instead for the past several years, they have played simple pop-rock, occasionally experimenting with electronics and strings. Chase This Light continues in this vein, leaning more heavily on the radio friendly material most similar to “The Middle”.
Pop and optimism (poptimism, if you will) are the name of the game this time around; the lyrics and tempos are upbeat, a sharp contrast from their 2004 full length Futures and the 2005 EP Stay on My Side Tonight. From the album title alone, it is obvious Jimmy Eat World are content, and looking at the lyrics only confirms this. Chase This Light is the band severing its tie to emo once and for all. Does this new approach work though? That all depends on what you like to hear from the band. Fans of Bleed American will certainly enjoy this, but those more inclined to the introspective style of Clarity or Futures will be reluctant to give this repeat listens. This reviewer certainly falls into the latter category, however it is still impossible to dismiss this record and ignore the few gems on it.
How are the songs themselves? “Big Casino” is certainly a winner, and a fine choice for a single. It is an impossibly infectious anthem, certain to get caught in any listener’s head. “Let It Happen” is much the same, but perhaps slightly less bold, as is “Always Be”. This is indicative of the album’s biggest problem: Most of the songs sound exactly the same.
A couple of songs do stand out, but this isn’t always a good thing. “Here It Goes” is the big dud, a dancey number that is horribly out of place in the band’s catalogue. On the opposite end of that spectrum is “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues”, a slow string-heavy piece that fits nicely in the middle of the up-tempo pop onslaught, providing a pleasant breather. “Electable (Give It Up)” is the token political number, however the lyrics are so vague that it could really be about anything, and it too fits the pop formula.
Lyrically there is nothing to complain about aside from “Electable”. Frontman Jim Adkins can almost always be counted on to provide solid, heartfelt lyrics and then back them up with passionate vocal delivery. The title track is especially notable in that aspect, as he implores someone (the listener? A girl? Jesus?) to “chase this light with me”. The closer “Dizzy” is a little longer (nearly five minutes), something Jimmy Eat World is known for, and these types of songs are underrepresented here. It is excellent, probably musically and lyrically the most powerful piece on the album. It comes close to overshadowing everything else in the 35 minutes preceding it.
Overall, Chase This Light is certainly not Jimmy Eat World’s finest album. It opens strong, but after a few songs they all begin to blend together. The overall pop fixation of the record really detracts from the record, though “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues” and “Dizzy” provide brief but memorable respites. Fans of their more pop-oriented work may enjoy this, but in the end it seems like there is something missing from the album. Despite there only being one truly bad song here, Chase This Light just does not stand out. Longtime listeners will feel frustration and disappointment that the band has produced such a lukewarm effort. Although most of the songs sound close to identical, they are not bad when taken individually. One just wishes that there just was more variety to be heard.
Key songs: Dizzy, Gotta Be Somebody's Blues, Big Casino
Posted by Jesus Marquez at 5:09 PM