I can't remember why I skipped my 10-year high-school reunion. I have no qualms about catching up with people I never liked in the first place. My problem was seeing the people I did like awkwardly bumbling their way through some ersatz form of adulthood like I was. Chugging Natural Light in the backseat of a minivan while careening toward Cleveland for the Warped Tour will forever remain one of the fondest memories of my teens. Learning the guy behind the wheel of said minivan is now a door-to-door knife salesman that lives in his mom's basement is information I can do without. If it's not on my Facebook feed, I don't need to know.
Whenever Jimmy Eat World releases a new record, the band might as well be that friend. It's been my favorite band since its 1999 masterpiece, Clarity, but I've found myself approaching each subsequent release with hesitation. When the Mesa, Ariz., quartet hit commercial paydirt with 2001's Bleed American, I was worried my beloved underdog pal had finally gotten too popular for me. Between dealing with jocks asking me to put "The Middle" on their Myrtle Beach senior trip mixtapes and a slew of terrible power ballads with titles like "Drugs or Me," I wondered how much more I could take.
Lucky for me and the other geezers whose emo comb-overs have long since receded into baldness, Jimmy Eat World subscribes to an ethos few modern rock bands are willing to strive for: consistency. Instead of pushing the envelope, the band splits the difference between the introspective punk anthems of Clarity and the sugary power pop of Bleed American. Unlike "edgy" bands that pander to the blogosphere, JEW has a fan base that grants it permission to release the same record every 2½ years. While this is patently uncool, it's ultimately forgivable, now that emo is just a silly footnote in the annals of rock music. As anticipated, Jimmy Eat World's latest record, Damage, is packed with grinding power chords, massive choruses and a sense of urgency that's often left behind when the singer turns 30. In other words, it sounds like a Jimmy Eat World record. What more could I ask for?
SEE IT: Jimmy Eat World plays Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., with X Ambassadors, on Tuesday, July 16. $22 advance, $25 day of show. 8 pm. All ages.