Jimmy Eat World: Clarity: Phoenix Sessions (Exotic Locations Recordings) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Jimmy Eat World

Clarity: Phoenix Sessions

Exotic Locations Recordings

Dec 27, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


At the twilight of the pandemic—when live music was a memory as distant as the time you made a wish with a lucky Denver mint—Jimmy Eat World revisited three albums from their back catalogue for an exclusive concert film series. Recorded in the cavernous Icehouse art space in downtown Phoenix, the Phoenix Sessions have now hit streaming services as a Christmas present to fans.

The biggest treat of the series is the band’s 1999 emo pop pathfinder Clarity. These venerated songs are kept true to their original forms while being enhanced by the rawness and giddy energy generated from a collaborative performance. As the occasional, delightful “whoo!” from frontman Jim Adkins evidences, the band still manages to extract much joy from these songs. Tracks such as “Table For Glasses,” with its diffident organ drone and clean guitars glistening like icicles, most closely resembles its studio album counterpart. Whereas the choppy dissonant riffs on “Your New Aesthetic” are more aggressive and hurried—and this is a song that the band had previously christened “Skeleton” because of its resemblance to horror movie music.

Throughout the record, one finds themselves smiling at a slightly different vocal inflection, an endearing bum note, or a minor fluctuation in tempo; these moments are pleasing in their gentle unfamiliarity but not at all distracting. Still, every guitar arpeggio, bass thrum, and drum fill is well-rehearsed and played with commitment. The band has been performing some of these songs live for over 20 years, after all. But capturing the intricacies of others in a live setting is a feat.

The Owen Meany-inspired finale “Goodbye Sky Harbor,” cut to half of its 16-minute album length, is more reserved and pared-back but no less entrancing. Its Krautrock-indebted extended instrumental section pulses with Hammond organ, vibraphone, and layers of guitars over which Adkins stacks linear wordless vocal loops. Elsewhere, the butterfly-inducing “Just Watch the Fireworks” is as immersive and poignant as ever, like watching back a transformative experience from your past. And the click-clack drum loops and percolating synthesizers of the seasonable “12.23.95” perfectly encapsulate the turtleneck and mulled cider season.

Unerringly passionate, emotive, and as in tune with each other as ever, Jimmy Eat World elevates these decades-old songs with a retrospective maturity and persistent playfulness. The fireworks are as loud as they have ever been. (www.jimmyeatworld.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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