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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Jimmy Eat World
Chase This Light

Rating: 7.6/10 ?

October 23, 2007
After exploring some murkier territory with Futures and the brooding Stay on My Side Tonight EP, Jimmy Eat World have returned with a brighter, more pop-infused sound on Chase This Light. That approach, of course, isn't exactly a new one for the Arizona outfit - Bleed American, the band's 2001 commercial breakthrough, offered one indelible hook after another. Although Chase This Light boasts a number of catchy songs that could generate a radio-play resurgence for the band, it lacks the eclecticism and sustained urgency that permeates their best work.

The album begins promisingly enough with the anthemic assault of "Big Casino." Lyrically, the song combines the band's trademark seize-the-day outlook with a measure of skepticism, with Adkins' narrator weighing his romanticized ambitions against disillusionment: "Get up! Get up!/ Dance on the ceiling?/ Get up! Get up!/ Boy, you must be dreaming/ Rock on young savior/ But don't get up your hopes." The band sustains the opening track's intensity with the defiant rocker "Let It Happen," in which Adkins defiantly declares, "Say whatever you want/ I can laugh it off."

From there the band slides into the effulgent pop of "Always Be" and "Carry You" - both tracks are sweet treats of ear candy, but with their spit-shined production, breezy instrumentation, and similar lyrical focus they sound more or less like the same song. The politically-minded "Electable (Give It Up)" bursts with exuberance, melding a bit of the band's post-punk roots with a Killers-esque synth bed. The lyrics are far too ambiguous to provide any depth, but, hey, is anyone really expecting Jimmy Eat World to be the new take on "The Times They Are A'Changin'"-era Bob Dylan?

On the slinking "Gotta Be Somebody's Blues," Adkins' whispery vocals and a haunting string section help buttress the track's ominous tone, yet only fans of plodding, repetitive melodies will take to the song's molasses-like viscosity. Chase This Light regains some of its early energy with the buoyant power-pop of "Feeling Lucky." The song lacks any sort of rough edge, though, leaving it sounding closer to "That Thing You Do" than say, "A Praise Chorus."

Although Butch Vig's glossy production inhibits the album's harder tracks from reaching Jimmy Eat World's customary level of intensity, it does prove to be the perfect treatment for the danceable "Here It Goes." An excellent combination of an eminently catchy melody and deft percussion, the song could compel even the most gawky, rhythmically-challenged post-emo wallflower to hit the dance floor.

Unfortunately, for having begun relatively strongly, Chase This Light ends with a three-song yawn. For a song about pursuing a desire with abandon, the title track sounds feeble, while "Firefight" is one of the blandest uptempo songs the band has written to date. "Dizzy" ends the band's run of phenomenal album closers that began with Clarity's "Goodbye Sky Harbor." The song is aimed at exerting some emotional pull, but with it's power ballad arrangement and forced lyrics ("Do you hear this conversation we talk about?") it is more in line with the cheap hearts and arrows of a summer blockbuster's soundtrack than Radiohead's "Videotape."

Chase This Light's would-be killer singles make for enjoyable listening, but taken as a whole it feels uninspired for a band known for its ambition. It's not a mindless pop record, but it's highly unlikely to elicit any of the "this album changed my life" responses in listeners the way Clarity and Bleed American did before it.

Reviewed by Jason Middlekauff
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Jason Middlekauff



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