Time isn’t kind to anyone, but it’s been especially harsh to turn-of-the-century emo bands. Pour a little on the curb for the Get Up Kids, Sense Field, or anyone with a Hey Mercedes tattoo. For Jimmy Eat World, who’ve been dining out on their pop smash “The Middle” for six years, some bitterness is to be expected.
So when Jim Adkins sings, “Rock on, young savior / Don’t get up your hopes,” on opener “Big Casino,” you might predict a lecture on the pitfalls of almost-fame. Instead, he asserts that “there’s still some living left when your prime comes and goes” and launches into a driving chorus, as if to prove his point. Loss and redemption are Chase This Light‘s dominant themes, but Adkins’ voice still has the youthful tang that once let fans know he was one of them, and the record is crisply produced, with jittery, epic songs that just happen to be about getting older and maybe a little more cynical.
On “Electable (Give It Up),” Adkins yelps about “talking heads” with “automated smiles,” and yet that oh-oh-oh-oh-oh refrain makes the lesson go down easy, as do techno-tight ballads like the title track and “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues.” “This must be how it feels when the feeling goes away,” Adkins sings on “Dizzy.” The joy of Chase This Light is hearing him convince us that it comes back again, too.