Jimmy Eat World

Chase This Light (Interscope)

The first lyric on Jimmy Eat World's new album Chase This Light is a very self-assured — if not presumptuous — one-word imperative: "stay." But an enormous wall of distorted guitars then suckerpunches the listener, just before a raucous burst of power drill-buzzing guitars bolts one to the chair. (In other words, vocalist/songwriter Jim Adkins is basically saying, "Um, yeah, you're not going anywhere for the next 40 minutes.") "Big Casino" is perfectly crafted to be an album-opener in the same way that the song "Bleed American" — which was renamed "Salt Sweat Sugar" after September 11 — demanded one's full attention from the get-go on the band's self-titled 2001 album.

That disc catapulted the Arizona quartet into the mainstream consciousness on the strength of undeniably catchy, radio-ready singles such as "The Middle" and "A Praise Chorus." And like those songs, Light finds Adkins continuing to paint vivid, nostalgic scenes of the simple moments that are often life's most exciting. "Before this world starts up again, it's me and night/We wait for the sun/The kids and drunks head back inside," introduces the first verse of "Big Casino," a song that epitomizes the desperate epiphanies which often accompany the first moments of sunrise to a soggy, party-drenched brain. Light cements Jimmy Eat World as a band that banks on its strengths (i.e. inventive arrangements that transcend the "emo" tag and glossy production tricks) to create infectious music that's familiar but doesn't pander to a formula. In the process, it finds that elusive place in pop music where mental pictures of a romanticized past serve as fuel to push one toward the mysterious future.

 
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