Jimmy Eat World - “Surviving” Album Review
Arizona-based alternative rock band Jimmy Eat World, believe it or not, just released its 10th studio album, “Surviving.” The band, alongside Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance, led the emo rock revolution at the turn of the millennium. The band began its success with the cult classic “Clarity” before peaking in popularity with 2001’s “Bleeding American” and 2004’s “Futures.” Songs like “The Middle” and “Sweetness” have now become synonymous with early 2000s rock.
Jimmy Eat World has yet to regain the popularity that it had 15 years ago, as the three albums following “Futures” have fallen into the rabbit hole of 2000s rock music. However, Jimmy Eat World’s newest record “Surviving” has been gaining the band a little momentum. This is likely due to the sound of the record. Instrumentally, Jimmy Eat World has not lost much ability. Although “Surviving” is not as hard-hitting as “Bleed American,” many of the songs on the album are quite catchy.
The title track, alongside “One Mil,” “All the Way (Stay)” and “Love Never,” are worth a listen for the instrumentals alone. The band’s sound has not departed much from early 2000s emo rock, as noisy guitar riffs and bashing, cymbal-heavy drum beats remain at the forefront. This is a sound that Jimmy Eat World has always done well, and the band continues to get it right here. The consistency of the album’s instrumentals is certainly the high point of “Surviving,” although there are some duds. “Delivery” sounds like a bad Rob Thomas ripoff and is as irrelevant as it is painful to listen to, and “555” is a moody ballad that strikes all the wrong chords.
These tracks, however, are not what brings the album down. What brings the album down are the lyrics. Jimmy Eat World has always relied on moody, emotional lyrics, oftentimes using lyrics to deliver life lessons, most notably on “The Middle.” But the entire “Surviving” album sounds like a self-help book with emo rock in the background. This would not be an issue if not for the quality of the lyrics. Many of the “life lessons” that are sung by frontman Jim Adkins are very surface level. It’s the type of stuff that you would expect from an episode of “Hannah Montana,” not a rock band that has been around for two and a half decades.
Some of the worst offenders of this are “Diamonds” and “Love Never,” in which Adkins’ singing completely halts any enjoyment had by the high-energy instrumentals prior. On the aforementioned “Delivery” and “555,” the underwhelming instrumentals bring the poor songwriting even closer to the forefront. The songwriting found within “Surviving,” with only a couple of exceptions, is bland, uninteresting and lacking in any sort of metaphor or innuendo. There is absolutely no need for deep thinking about theme or intention of the lyrics.
“Surviving” is rare in that bad songwriting hurts the project so much that its 10 tracks quickly become tough to listen to. The instrumentals are good, but there has been absolutely no evolution whatsoever in Jimmy Eat World’s sound. The only people who would find this album enticing are those who are able to completely ignore underwhelming songwriting and those whose taste in music has not evolved since the early 2000s.
In the future, Jimmy Eat World should look back to what made “Clarity” such a lasting album. The band has proven in the past that it can display proficient, if not top-notch, songwriting. Adding an element of storytelling and metaphor into their future works and evolving their sound a little bit can make Jimmy Eat World an interesting band once again.
Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Surviving”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “Diamonds,” “Delivery,” “555”
Jim Krueger is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.