Throughout Jimmy Eat World's career, the Arizona band has been under-promoted by a major label (which buried Static Prevails and Clarity, two outstanding records) and unfairly pigeonholed as an emo-rock also-ran. With that history, it's especially life-affirming to hear the group's almost comically assured Bleed American, which oozes hooks and heart on every track. Skirting its old emo-rock designation with an emphasis on outright rocking—not to mention nods to straight-shooting pop, with an abundance of hand-claps, finger-snaps, and cooing female choruses—Jimmy Eat World piles on endlessly ingratiating summer-friendly anthems like "The Authority Song," "The Middle," and the almost overwhelming "A Praise Chorus." But more great moments are tucked into the subtle, sparkling mid-tempo surprises "Hear You Me" and "Cautioners," which lend depth to the proceedings while tempering Bleed American's almost overbearing rock stomp. Jimmy Eat World has enjoyed a small dose of overdue hype as Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge's favorite band, and it shares his flair for wide-open pop harmonies. But Jimmy Eat World's more mature rock runs much deeper and, oddly, possesses broader commercial potential, with an emotional directness that allows the songs to transcend mere hooky throwaways. A car-radio classic in the making, Bleed American seems like a can't-miss hit, but the long-suffering Jimmy Eat World has no doubt heard that one before.
More from The A.V. Club