Mesa Arizona’s Jimmy Eat World has managed to retain certain innocence to their music over the years. The same high-spirited choruses, clever guitar riffs and lose-yourself attitude that catapulted songs “The Middle” and “Pain” to number one status last decade, remain in the group’s latest record titled Surviving. What is most impressive about the group’s tenth studio entry is that lead singer/guitarist Jim Adkins and company continue to experiment and produce tracks that are wholly different from the next, crowd-pleasing in a way few acts can claim to do. The band reminds listeners with each song that they are a group to be appreciated and, in today’s day and age, carefully examined.
The title track kicks off the record with rugged power chords as Adkins’ vocals enter heroically. Before you know it, you are in Jimmy’s world of immersive-anthemic choruses capped off by Zach Lind’s explosive drum patterns. Nothing seems out of the ordinary in the sizzling opening or the high-speed second track “Criminal Energy,” but then Jimmy flips it on you when the fourth track, “555,” begins. The fourth song is a synth-driven, gooey pop track fitting for any of Maroon 5’s latest entries, and yet somehow you’re not mad. The song is catchy, as a pop song should be, and the immersion is wholly organic. Jimmy Eat World has always done an excellent job of effortlessly offering fans different sonic dishes that are all richly satisfying.
From the buttery sax solo that climaxes “All the Way,” to the fuzzy punk basslines of Rick Burch in “Diamond” all the things listeners did not know they wanted from the record are there. Surviving’s grand finale is a ride in and of itself. The song has that grandiose feel that Fall Out Boy, and groups like them, have so well mastered. Adkins leads the sonic carnival alongside the ascending guitar riff of Tom Linton, twisting and turning upwards as the music builds intensity. The bass interlude is sweet, the electro-tinge spot on and the snapping snare vibrant. The culmination, a devastating rock breakdown, is the coronation of a group that has ascended to indie-rock greatness; a group fit for all decades.
Jimmy Eat World is what Weezer never quite became: a group of crowd-pleasers too cool to keep things simple and too raw to fail. As you listen to the various changes in mood Surviving offers, pause and remember that this is the group that gifted the world one of rock’s modern classics in late 2001, when we needed something to unite us: an anthem worthy of recognition for a world that needed to escape for a while.