In a sentence:
Some aspects of ‘Surviving’ might make it alarming for long-term fans, but the record is one of Jimmy Eat World’s most quietly innovative.
In a career spanning 25 years and nine albums, Jimmy Eat World continue to impress with Surviving, their 10th studio effort. When you first look at the artwork of the band’s new album, all you see is a maze. Until you realize that maze is the album title hiding in plain sight. Is the band hinting at a tone or message that tries to get across of something that appears to be one thing but is actually something else?
are. Surviving is about what prevents you from operating in the mode of
living that is more about living rather than existing, the songs deal with what
prevents you from doing and what you have to overcome. It is basically an
exorcism of depression and self-doubt. Several songs on the record might sound
like as if they were inspired by their preceding records, but Jim Adkins
asserts that “There was no looking back while coming up with the record.”
starts off with its title track, with an
amazing riff and drums combination that would have fit right in with the Bleed
American era. An absolute banger, the first couple of lines “Don’t
hide your face, what you were before” really establishes what the
album is all about. Following this song comes ‘Criminal Energy’, easily the
standout of the album, imitating ‘Surviving’ but going a step further with a
ripping solo and hard-hitting drums. ‘Criminal Energy’ is used to describe a
moral sickness that makes you choose poorly. It deals with the fact that no one
can escape the voice that haunts you and your rationality when you make bad
Jimmy Eat World begins to change both pace and genre into something that is
slower and gentler, focusing on the message. It is about the battle to stay
present in the interactions with other people. ‘555’ feels like the
black sheep of the album, with the heavy use of synths and sounding more pop
than rock. The unique sound can be credited to the fact that ‘555’ was last
song to be conceptualised and recorded after 15 songs. “It is about acceptance
and feeling like you are never going to win despite doing everything right and
it’s easy to get lost in a sense of self-pity, but you’ll never leave that
place of self-pity unless you come to acceptance” says Adkins.
‘One Mil’ is basically a
singalong about being a loser, where the band returns to rocky roots. ‘All The Way (Stay)’ is
inspired by ‘80s rock, as it follows the gag where you expect a ripping solo at
the end but it starts fading out. The end is basically a jam where the
saxophone is the focus, and they pull it off, but barely. The development of
this song started after 2001’s Bleed American, but it did not fit anything
until Surviving. ‘Diamond’
is about the inability to accept incremental change. It continues with the late
‘90s-early ‘00s rock sound.
‘Love Never’ is about the
unhealthy expectations that love will complete us. But until you put in as much
love as you hope to get, you will always be disappointed is the message of this
song. ‘Recommit’ is about
battling about what society thinks you need to be doing, fight against being pressured
to present this fake version of ourselves. ‘Congratulations’ sticks out,
simply by being totally different. Long, mysterious, and thoroughly compelling,
it is the mark of a band that is not confined by its past or constrained by its
Surviving is centred around the concept of less is going to be more, evident in the use of silence which is a lot more prominent than any of their previous records, which makes the overall tone heavier and really drives the message home. Though there isn’t much musical deviation from the band’s past output, Surviving sees the drums hitting harder, and the guitars packing a greater punch, audibly backing up these lyrics of hope and rebirth in their own way. To any long-term fans enamoured with their huge discography, Surviving might be a difficult pill to swallow at first. Other than the first two tracks, the rest of the songs feel mellow and straight up ridiculous – ‘555’ is really alien, as is the saxophone solo in ‘All The Way (Stay)’ – but upon repeat listenings of the record, everything feels normalised and in place. The lyrics across the songs are heavy and provoking. In the end, this is one of their better and more surprising works as compared to their discography. (7/10) (Aryan Agarwal)
Listen to Surviving by Jimmy Eat World here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: Aryan Agarwal, Jim Adkins, Jimmy Eat World, RCA, review, Rick Burch, Surviving, Tom Linton, Zach Lind
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