"Chase this Light," album No. 5 for Arizona's kings of "girlfriend-safe" rock, Jimmy Eat World, won't be released until Oct. 16, but the Budgeteer got its grubby li'l paws on a copy this afternoon -- and here's how the story unfolds:
1. "Big Casino"
This song has a simple message: Sonically, Jimmy Eat World hasn't skipped a beat since its last effort, the underrated "Futures," and, melody-wise, the group is looking back to its pre-"Bleed American" roots.
Catchy, but not too catchy.
2. "Let it Happen"
"Let it Happen" just screams lead-off single ... am I wrong? I don't listen to radio, so I wouldn't know. (Anyway, before I forget, you can listen to tracks off "Chase this Light" at JimmyEatWorld.com, and pre-orders at select merchants will net you a bonus disc with the exclusive track "Open Bar Reception" -- which, unfortunately, I do not have access to.)
3. "Always Be"
Billy Joel? No, Matt, no. Sorry, the snapping of the fingers threw me....
Poppy, mindless fun nonetheless -- kinda like if the Postal Service intentionally went for a Top 40 hit. (But only only "kinda.")
4. "Carry You"
If you happened to catch Deepsky's intriguing remix of America's "Ventura Highway" for the "What is Hip?" project, you might be prepared for this tuneful tune. Yeah....
5. "Electable (Give it Up)"
Ooh, a rocker! While it doesn't sound as forced as Pearl Jam's recent attempts, it doesn't quite fit with the tracks that precede it. I have the distinct feeling this one was written for people that only know Jimmy Eat World for "Bleed American."
6. "Gotta be Somebody's Blues"
A slow builder, I like it. It's a little moody, but it shows a band becoming more mature in its songwriting approach.
7. "Feeling Lucky"
Upbeat, catchy = YES! YES!
8. "Here it Goes"
Butch Vig actually produced this!? Oh, he only served as "executive producer" ... whatever the [EXPLETIVE DELETED] that means. (Translation: This song is conspicuously missing any sort of "edge." In fact, it actually kind of sounds like a Christmas song in spirit....)
"Hey, hey, hey, hey."
9. "Chase this Light"
The title track is ... pretty. Not completely lame, but this will probably be single No. 2, and it will, as it should, sell millions of records for Jimmy Eat World.
A driving rocker like much of the band's early output. Nice.
Unfortunately not a cover of Tommy Roe's classic of the same name (leave that to the unstoppable Self), but, it is, like so many songs in the Jimmy Eat World canon, the perfect mix-tape track for lovers on a cross-country roadtrip. (Or, at the very least, one for lovers returning home to Fargo's North Dakota State University after an event-filled weekend in Crosby, Minn.)
THE VERDICT? Good ... damn good. I'm not afraid to throw my full support behind Jimmy Eat World -- they've written way too many memorable songs ("Call it in the Air" and "Lucky Denver Mint" quickly come to mind) to be written off as a '90s one-album wonder. If you liked "Futures" as much as I did, you'll surely love "Chase this Light."
*A special thanks to the fine folks at Interscope Records for making all this possible -- especially for a humble little newspaper man like myself!