Tracks (Runtime): 11 (49:33)
Longest Track: “23” at 7 minutes and – wait for it – 23 seconds.
Geometry of an album cover: 3rd. Horizontally, vertically, in the image and the words, it plays the “rule of three” like a fucking fiddle.
JEWish-ness: Like, all of “Kill”, from the title to the final refrain/chorus: “I loved you and I should’ve said it/ But tell me just what has it ever meant/ I can’t help it baby, this is who I am/ I’m sorry, but I can’t just go turn off how I feel/ You kill me, you build me up, but just to watch me break.”
Lots of small ideas: Fittingly, “Kill” directly references “Half Right”, a hidden track from Elliott Smith’s early band Heatmiser’s 1996 album Mic City Sons: “I pick up put down the phone/ Like your favorite Heatmiser song goes:/ ’It’s just like being alone’”
Wait, which refrain do I sing? “Night Drive” – the “na na nana”s .vs. “Kiss me with your cherry lipstick/ Never wash you off my face/ Hit me, I can take your cheap shots/ Leave you with the love we made” vs. all those “OOOoooOOOooo”s.
The Phair-er sex: There are no female vocals on any track here save “Work” (“Jim’s on all those backups,” bassist Rich Burch told PunkNews.org. “He really worked on his range.”) The lady helping out on “Work”? Liz Phair. No joke.
“Futures” and “Nothingwrong”: explain why Adkins and drummer Zach Lind answered “Kerry” in this interview without hesitating. Also, how the title track hasn’t become a go-to for Headcount.org or Rock the Vote is baffling.
Oh bye, Mark! Trombino was originally attached to the album, but creative differences forced him to take his leave. Gil Norton stepped in to fill some big shoes.
Jimmy Says Words about following up Bleed American with the harder-hitting, more political Futures: “I was either just having my second child or just about to when we were recording. It is sort of growing up—the idea that responsibility is here. “Hello, responsibility!” It’s here and that means just being a little bit more aware. Yeah, there was kind of a political leaning forming, for sure. But at the same time, it’s important to not present that in a way that’s preachy. I know there’s always sort of a “I am a tax-paying United States citizen, so I have the same freedoms to protest or dissent or express my views in a public forum as anybody else.” But I know it’s not as effective if you have some dude in a rock band talking about “how it is, man.” I wouldn’t believe me if I heard me saying anything other than “make sure you’re registered to vote”.
I think part of it is also about greed. There’s a lot of societal commentary there, too. It’s not just all about elections and who’s running the show. You can tell where our politics are by what we support as a band rather than what we are singing about.”
Verdict: Perhaps this album didn’t attract as much attention as Bleed American because it’s *gasp* darker and heavier. That’s actually a bit ironic, considering songs like “Futures” and “Nothingwrong” should’ve resonated well with angry young folk of 2004 (ahem, the fact that “Futures” wasn’t released as a single until after the ’04 elections probably didn’t help). “23” and “The World You Love” harken back to Clarity, and while “Pain” and “Just Tonight” put an edge on the catchiness of Bleed American. The fact that this record didn’t cement JEW’s status may be more a byproduct of the three years between releases than the material, because it’s a damn fine effort.