The members of Jimmy Eat World — like all sentient beings over the age of, say, 16 — are on record as loathing the term emo. But since they’re stuck with it (in fact, many consider their recently rereleased 1999 album, Clarity, to be the much-maligned genre’s finest moment), perhaps they’ll accept some sincerely unbackhanded flattery. Their sumptuous fifth album, Chase This Light, is what emo should sound like: big emotions, sure, but also big hooks, big stakes. And big rewards.
Frontman Jim Adkins is allergic to the adolescent histrionics favored by his mopey peers (Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco) — ”The beauty is in what isn’t said,” he sings defiantly on the title track. Instead, he brings a teenage sense of wonder to a more adult landscape, giving voice to the complicated feelings of commitment, trust, envy, and loss that are achingly familiar even to those not prone to sporting heavy black mascara or shopping at Hot Topic. With the expert assistance of superproducer Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins), Adkins and the band (guitarist Tom Linton, bassist Rick Burch, and drummer Zach Lind) brilliantly fuse the extroverted guitar pop of their self-titled 2001 platinum breakthrough album with the heft of 2004’s more pensive Futures. From the fuzzed-out crunch of opener ”Big Casino” to the elegiac crescendos of closer ”Dizzy,” Light is a master class in hard rocking for the soft-hearted. A
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