The challenge for a band that’s had as long a career as Jimmy Eat World is how to stay relevant and stay interesting. For a band that has always had such a mature sound, what does maturation look like? It’s a difficult challenge for Jimmy Eat World and many bands that came up around them who are still putting out new releases.
Jimmy Eat World’s answer is to lean into more of an older, rock ‘n’ roll sound. This is signaled right off the bat with opening track “Surviving.” Their typical, pristine production and tight sound is this time used to create a louder, brasher sound. Although the band professed to take a more minimalistic approach with the album sonically, it’s hard to tell. The instruments sound fuller and rawer with the rough sound of distorted guitars and the booming drums highlighted in every song. Jim Adkins conveys the same sense of earnestness and desperation in his voice that he’s known for. However, the tones of the instruments and the voice don’t really vary throughout the record.
The lyrics are, as usual, smart and sophisticated. “Wish I had mastery of wit, luck, and fearless confidence” Adkins sings on “One Mil.” Album closer “Congratulations” contains the brilliantly rhymed, “You’ll blame and fight each other/For just a slice of plunder/Too down and tired to wonder/Whose foot you’re crawling under.” Surviving’s lyrics are inventive and surprising. It’s definitely one of the album’s strongest components.
Sadly, the music doesn’t match the ingenuity or creativity of the lyrics. Most of the tracks on the album sound a lot like other songs, like the generic single. Unfortunately, this sounds like exactly what he did on this album. At points, Surviving sounds like a reimagined Jimmy Eat World greatest hits album. “Delivery” sounds so much like the band’s back catalogue it could have been called “Dizzy 2.0.”
If “Congratulations” is a sign of what’s to come, then Jimmy Eat World’s next album will be more than just Surviving.