Jimmy Eat World – “Damage”

“All in all, Damage does no harm; rather, it heals the wounds inflicted between 2008’s Invented and now. It both encourages reminiscence and walks you down a hopeful path to the future.”

Dawson White

out of 10

Jimmy Eat World
June 11th, 2013

The teen kings of pop-punk are growing up. We’ve seen it with Brand New’s Daisy and Andrew McMahon’s graduation to Jack’s Mannequin, and now, with the release of Damage, we can add the boys-turned-men of Jimmy Eat World to the elite list of punk-music endurers.

Young musicians are not immune to the curses of teenage-stardom; the temptation to jump the line to adulthood and skip crucial formative milestones is just as potent to the young guns of rock as it is to the children of primetime television. But where so many have fizzled and struggled to bridge the gap between juvenility and adulthood, Jimmy effortlessly made the connection.

They never stopped writing about what they knew. From Static Prevails to Bleed American to now, the boys of Jimmy resisted the urge to force maturity, instead, choosing to adapt as the realities of growing up presented themselves. The instrumentals that once gave you license to head-bang and air strum behind the wheel of your crappy first car will still find you playing the steering wheel drum set of your sensible, four door sedan. But it’s the lyrics that shine a light on the gradual transformation that overtook the band.

The lines that once highlighted the trials and tribulations of youth have been replaced with words forged from the wisdom and experiences of men who’ve made choices and marinated in the consequences. So for all you fans who grew up with Jimmy Eat World as your experienced, been-there-brother, you won’t be disappointed. Damage is still drenched with fan-favorite themes of love won and love lost, they’re just explored from the mind of a 37 year old man; the same mind that, at pivotal moments, asked , “Do you believe in what you want?” The same mind that comforted and commiserated when you finally had to promise, “Where you go, I’ll let you stay.”

It’s the quotable natures of these life-applicable works of poetry that are such large slices of the why-we-love-Jimmy pie. So fear not, the sentiments in Damage are just as quotable as your old favorites. You’ll still want them tattooed on your body and you’ll still find them as suitable candidates for statuses and selfie captions. Take “Please Say No,” the heart-wrenching ballad (and my favorite song on the album). You’ll find a lyrical basis to argue it’s sung by the same lovesick protagonist as “23,” just years, decisions, and relationships down the line. A quick aside: Has there ever been a pop-punk outfit that’s done the power-ballad better than Jimmy? “For Me, This is Heaven.” “Hear You Me.” “My Sundown.” “Please Say No,” is a perfect addition. You’ll beg for more even after it’s ripped out your heart and smashed it on the pavement. Friends, this cannot be taught.

Under the same hurts-so-good umbrella is the energizing “How’d You Have Me;” your genre-typical ex-bashing, self-empowerment breakup song. Also dwelling there is “ByeByeLove,” a smooth but catchy swearing-off-of-romance that might encourage Emma Watson-like hanging out of your best friend’s sunroof (which I neither affirm nor encourage). A handful of songs, including the title track, are easily overshadowed by the obvious stand outs and run the risk of being mistaken for other Jimmy songs; “Book of Love” could be “Your House’s” fraternal twin. But any mild frustration is overcome with the joys of instant familiarity embedded in the opening riffs of the album’s first track, “Appreciation.” The song says it best: There’s something I feel that I haven’t felt since I was a kid. “Appreciation” is that reintroduction; it satiates a forgotten longing like a reunion with your best friend of yesteryear.

All in all, Damage does no harm; rather, it heals the wounds inflicted between 2008’s Invented and now. It both encourages reminiscence and walks you down a hopeful path to the future. But down that road, like its Bleed American and Chasing the Light brethren, Damage will serve as a sweet souvenir of the glorious now. Catch them at Center Stage Atlanta on August 14th and make yourself some memories.

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