The Arizona rockers’ eighth effort – Damage (RCA) – is heavy on the heart, with each of its powerful 10 songs dealing with the trials and tribulations of relationships. Matters of lust and love are never easy to deal with, but Adkins seems to hash them out well on this personal tome.
It is a theme Adkins readily admitted to following, an interesting choice after the course for Invented was charted when the singer-guitarist made up narratives based on the photography of Hannah Starky and Cindy Sherman.
Emotionally, Damage runs the gamut of love. The lead single “I Will Steal You Back” speaks of trivial jealousy, “Byebyelove” is fairly self-explanatory and “You Were Good” looks back on love wistfully, beginning with the line, “It could have been, but never was, at least the way you’d thought it’d be when you grew up.”
“I’m 37 and the world around me is a lot different than when I was writing breakup songs in my 20s,” he told Rolling Stone. I tried to reflect that in the lyrics.”
In an interview with Billboard, the Fender signature artist again touched on the deep-leaning topics he addresses on the album.
“Nothing is less effective for me than when you stack happy on top of happy,” he explained. “I just can’t have empathy for that type of song.”
“In writing material for Damage, I wanted an initial jumping-off, so I started writing, searching about love songs,” he continued. “And the kind of love songs that I’m attracted to, that interest me or I find interesting to explore, are the windows of adversity, heartbreak, or break-up… They always speak to me more.”
Musically, Damage boasts a few tracks that harken back to the halcyon days of Bleed American (2001) and Futures (2004). “Steal You Back” has the pregnant pause that made chart-busting singles like “The Middle” so infinitely catchy. The record’s lead track “Appreciation” carries a jaunty guitar-driven 4/4 time that breaks into a 3/4 signature in the middle, recalling Jimmy Eat World’s classic post-emo sound. It could be the album’s biggest standout.
One interesting note is the way the band uses acoustic guitars in an almost unprecedented way. “Book of Love” and “Please Say No” are two sweet ballads that plumb the inner depths of your chest.
And the driving title track of Damage asks the questions it seems like Adkins – or at least the character he dreamt up in writing the album – has been trying to answer throughout the songwriting process.
“Are we only damaging the little we have left?
Both of us swimming in the same polluted mess.
Are we too damaged now to possibly connect?
To honestly connect?”
Regardless of the outcome of this fictional couple, Damage is undoubtedly a reminder of just how good Jimmy Eat World is at connecting with their fans.
Watch the video for “I Will Steal You Back” below and visit Jimmy Eat World’s official website for more information.