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With the stunning Bleed American, national recognition can’t be far off for Mesa’s Jimmy Eat World. The latest offering from Jim Adkins’ quartet arrives with a pop sheen blended among its indie/punk/emo sound.

Dropped from Capitol Records after two albums, Static Prevails and Clarity, despite the moderate hit “Lucky Denver Mint,” the members of Jimmy Eat World struck out on their own to record Bleed American and landed at DreamWorks.

And if the new label gives appropriate marketing consideration to the band (something decidedly lacking at Capitol), Arizona’s most promising band will finally land a well-deserved position on national radio.

Not as radio-friendly or silly as Blink 182 (whose singer, Tom DeLonge claims Jimmy as his favorite band), more complex and less brooding than Weezer’s new album and having left much of the emo-pretentiousness of Sunny Day Real Estate behind, Jimmy Eat World has struck the perfect balance with a complex mix of sounds and emotions.

The title track to Bleed American opens with Jim Adkins declaration that “I’m not alone because the TV’s on / I’m not crazy because I take the right pills.” It is at the same time a condemnation of modern America and a wonderful lead in to the themes of isolation and abandonment that run throughout the album’s 11 tracks.

“Your House” is a ballad in which driving acoustic guitars let the song develop into a resigned tale of love lost.

Next up is “The Middle,” a hooky power-pop tune with its “Everything will be just fine” chorus sounding actually believable.

“Sweetness” echoes back to Clarity as it brings more power to the pop with a swelling chorus and near-vengeful percussion.

“Hear Your Me” recalls Paul Westerberg’s mellower solo recordings with its intensely personal lyrics and balanced acoustic and electric guitar work. Adkins lyric describes the “sleepless roads where the sleepless go” before administering a Dylan-esque well wishing with the repeated line “May angels lead you in.”

Bleed American proves Jimmy Eat World will have and hold its listeners, if the talented band can just reach enough of them.

Originally published Aug. 6, 2001 in the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

(Note: Long before I started freelance music writing, I would occasionally dabble in the same type of stuff. I’ll periodically dig some of the good stuff out of the past and re-post them here.)

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Eric Swedlund is a writer, photographer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. His music writing has appeared regularly in the Tucson Weekly, Phoenix New Times, East Bay Express, The Rumpus and Souciant Magazine.

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