Jimmy Eat World has been around for quite some time now – 20 years, to be exact – and they’re showing no signs of stopping. To this day, they still have many dedicated fans of their 1999 album, Clarity, which has had a profound impact on emo music.
Despite their long-running career, giving them great expectations to live up to, their newest effort, Damage, does not disappoint. With a runtime of about 38 minutes, it clocks in shorter than any of their other full-length albums, but each track has so much to offer that it’s not truly a disappointment.
Lead singer Jim Adkins has referred to the album as an “adult breakup record,” and that trend is evident throughout the album, manifesting itself in songs of bitterness, regret, sadness, and even acceptance.
In a similar vein to their earliest efforts, Damage is much more stripped down; soft, acoustic melodies are a common appearance throughout the album.
The production as a whole is very simplistic. In a world where the music on the radio tends to sound a bit overproduced, this is a refreshing sound.
Overall, Jimmy Eat World still manages to capture whole worlds of emotion and heartbreak and condense them into three- and four-minute songs on Damage. The title track represents some of the most emotional work on the album, detailing the journey of a person breaking off from someone they still care about, with soft acoustic guitars and drums accompanying poignant vocals with lines such as “I hate the way I feel / But I don’t think I can change.”
“Book Of Love” is a more upbeat track, with a foot-tapping drumbeat that falls away for a softer chorus. Despite appearances, however, the song actually follows a rather sad narrative, of a relationship that seemed successful but wasn’t; as Adkins sings in the song, “I’ve been alone / Just never known it.”
“I Will Steal You Back” is a solid lead single for the album, with a catchiness about it and electric guitars ringing in the chorus. “How’d You Have Me” is probably the most rocking song on the album, starting right off the bat with strong electric guitar that doesn’t cease throughout the whole song.
The album closes off with “Byebyelove” and “You Were Good.” The former is one of the more aggravating songs on the album for me, because even though it’s grown, I feel like there’s a lot of untapped potential in the song. It has intriguing verses that transition into booming choruses, repeating the line “It’s bye bye love,” and something about those choruses just falls short. It’s very reminiscent of the closing track to their Invented album, “Mixtape,” which had a similar structure of choruses that repeated. “Byebyelove” just fails to really lift off the ground, though. There’s even an excellent minute-long buildup after the second chorus, but it just leads into a final chorus not much different from the previous ones. It’s still an excellent song of determination in leaving a relationship, but I just feel like there’s some untapped potential there.
“You Were Good” continues the Jimmy Eat World tradition of an especially intriguing closing track, telling a sort of retrospective tale of a relationship past, which gives a good sense of closure to the theme of the album. With an almost demo-like feel, it feels the most stripped-down and basic of any song on the album. The bridge contains some of my favorite lyrics on the whole album: “So I’m not who you wanted / But you’re still the one who sets a fire in me / Guess I’ll drink what I’ll drink / ‘Til the loving touch I need / Is not a need.”
Damage is not what I’d consider Jimmy Eat World’s best record, but with seven other full-length albums, such a title would be hard to earn. It’s an excellent addition to their catalogue, and I’m positive I’ll still be listening to it in the years to come, as I’ve been doing with their music since I discovered it about a decade ago.