[CD Review] Jimmy Eat World, 'Bleed American (Deluxe Edition)' (DreamWorks/Geffen)

Though together since late 1993, Arizona's Jimmy Eat World didn't become Jimmy Conquer World until the release of 2001's Bleed American (which the band retitled eponymously following 9/11). Capitol Records had dropped the quartet after 1999's Clarity, so the band funded their own recording sessions. Thereafter, Jimmy Eat World's self-produced, judiciously self-titled and multiplatinum third album spawned several Modern RockT radio/Total Request Live hits, most notably “The Middle.”

Further bolstered by “Sweetness,” “A Praise Chorus,” “The Authority Song” and the title track, the album was rife with cloistered determination and succinct, hook-driven sing-alongs. But is this two-disc reissue—which reinstates the original Bleed American title, plus appends 18 B-sides, import, demo and live tracks, and three previously unreleased cuts—just an excuse to bleed fans' wallets dry? Or does the extra material actually add value?

As initially released, Bleed American felt filler-free. Now the Deluxe Edition appends at least one alternate take of each album track and more. Some—such as “The Middle” and “Your House 2007” done semi-acoustic—are charming. “The Authority Song” demo is Rivers Cuomo and company back in their innocent garage daze. Additionally, “(Splash) Turn Twist” could totally be a Weezer B-side, especially considering its contributions by Rachel Haden (Jimmy Eat World's touring keyboardist/backup vocalist in 2001, who also worked with Cuomo circa 1996).

The live performance of “Sweetness” shows the engagement the band can incite. As for influence-revealing covers, “Last Christmas,” as played by emo's little drummer boys, pairs a gummy thwack with blushing reverb, while a take on the Prodigy's “Firestarter” trades aggression for a bleary, downcast collage (making both of these tracks more reminiscent of Clarity). The standout cover, however, is the pithy, pursed pop of Guided by Voices' “Game of Pricks.” None of this, however, reimagines Jimmy Eat World. This isn't Rites of Spring, and to some it will never be more than saccharine, perfectly readymade for rites of passage. But for contemporary power-pop kids needing that one last mixtape track, Bleed American offers a treasure trove.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *