35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Ah, the butterflies...,
This review is from: Clarity (Audio CD)
Every once in a while, you come across an album that not only impresses you, but just really makes you feel grateful to be alive. Something that just makes the world that much better of a place, knowing that something like this exists. For me, "Clarity" is one of these albums. I enjoy every incarnation of Jimmy Eat World, from the raw, indie punk of the early days, to the more radio-friendly sound they've adopted more recently, but this album is where everything just really came together. "Clarity" is huge, daring, multi-layered, unpredictable, and just mesmerizingly beautiful.
Here, the band really pull out all the stops. As compared their later work, there are far few catchy hooks, instead opting for massive soundscapes, and sweeping melodies. However, that's not to say that there's no hook power to be found here, as the elegant power ballad "Lucky Denver Mint" (which was sort of a minor hit) boasts a strong, driving melody, and one of the band's best choruses. "Your New Aesthetic", the band's rousing protest against commercialism in music, toggles wildly between power pop hooks and crashing Fugazi-like riffs. "Blister" and "Crush" are fast, hard, punk rock anthems, adding a nice sense of variety to an otherwise melodic album.
But the real brilliance here lies foremost in the epic, sweeping ballads. "Table for Glasses" opens the album, with its achingly beautiful buildup, and jaw-dropping vocal harmonies. "Ten", "Just Watch the Fireworks", and "For Me This Is Heaven" (which are all in a row) are just about the most beautiful and heart-wrenching ballads you can hope to hear, and all three of them put together are nearly overwhelming. It really is just beyond words.
Elsewhere, there's plenty of other goodness as well. "Believe in What You Want" combines lurching, offbeat rhythms with a sweeping melodic chorus. "12-23-95" is an odd, electronic-tinged track, with sparse vocals, and a tastefully done minimalist arrangement, and the title track is fluffy and multi-layered.
Now, having gotten 12 tracks into this album, you may think, at this point, that it can't possibly get any better. But guess what? IT DOES! The closing track, "Goodbye Sky Harbor", is a massive, 16+ minute epic of pure freaking divinity. It starts off seemingly conventional, your typical indie rock type song, but soon, it moves into a gargantuan instrumental section that's nothing short of magical. Centered around a simple but entrancing guitar melody, the song slowly and gradually builds an incredible atmosphere. About halfway through, the band members start doing these amazing wordless vocal harmonies, slowly layering them more and more, finally leading into a cool electronic drum bit, and culminating in a dynamite ending. While not everyone might have the attention span for something like this (if you've only heard the newer stuff, you probably can't even imagine them doing such a song), I can't get enough of it. The most experimental, and amazing thing these guys have ever done.
You know, I sort of hate writing more detailed reviews for albums I like this much, because I know that whatever crap I rattle off won't even come close to doing the experience justice. If you really love beauty in music, you really need to hear this. In the final moments before my death, I want this to be the last album I ever hear, because the way this album makes me feel is exactly how I want to feel when I leave this world. Jimmy Eat World have that rare quality of being both poignant and uplifting at the same time, like a happy memory of a time in your life you wish would never end. I don't know how they did this, but I'm forever grateful that they did.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 6, 2007 12:01:15 AM PST
Irene Brenner says:
Wonderful review. This album has meant so much to me over the years. As my taste in music has evolved, and I've left behind many of the mediocre bands of my youth, my love for JEW--and especially this album--has never ceased. I always have, and always will feel at home in this music. Thank you for doing it justice.
Posted on Apr 27, 2008 11:02:14 AM PDT
K. Hibbard-Baker says:
Man, you captured Clarity beautifully. This is by far my favorite JEW album. I especially loved your bit about "Goodbye Sky Harbor": "The closing track, 'Goodbye Sky Harbor', is a massive, 16+ minute epic of pure freaking divinity." SO true. Easily my favorite track.
Thanks for writing a great review, if people read this and don't buy the album, they are obviously not absorbing anything they have read!
Posted on May 6, 2008 6:08:37 AM PDT
Meagan Motuz says:
Really, really good review and thanks for it. I recently got Chase this light, my first JEW experience and fell in love. How would you rank Clarity with this release? I think I'll go buy it anyway!
Posted on Feb 25, 2009 1:15:09 PM PST
Thanks for the great review. I only know "Bleed American," but just read that the band will be playing "clarity" straight through in San Francisco tonight. I wanted to see what it's all about. Your review totally makes me want to listen to JEW right now. Thanks again.
Posted on Mar 25, 2011 8:19:44 AM PDT
Damn, that's a well-written review. Top 5 albums of all time for me. This was my first trip into the world of emo. I really believe this is what emo was striving for, but rarely attained. For Me This Is Heaven is my favorite song, and pretty much sums up how I feel about this album.
Posted on Nov 28, 2013 2:20:33 PM PST
Ryan Michelson says:
Spot On. There are few things in life that you can truly say are beautiful. That give you a reason to live. The fact that music of this magnitude is possible is one of those reasons.
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