Jimmy Eat World will forever be associated with one of the most maddeningly catchy emo rock songs of recent memory, “The Middle.” The single off their 2001 breakout eponymous album ended up on approximately 7 billion film and television soundtracks, and all over mainstream radio. Even now that chorus—“It just takes some time…Everything, everything will be just fine, just fine…”—is as sticky as flypaper. Just thinking about “The Middle” makes me bob my head and start mumbling lyrics (“…everything, everything will be alright, alright…). I hate it.
It’s a double-edged sword, really. One-hit stardom can be crippling for some bands, and J.E.W., with a catalog that dates back to 1994 and continues today, deserves better. The best example is their last effort, Stay on My Side Tonight, a largely overlooked five-song EP. It includes the barren “Disintegration,” a slow-building, epic anthem that ends with the repeating lines of the EP’s title. This track, like the rest of Stay, lacks the expected sheen of J.E.W.’s most marketable albums, and that’s a good thing.
I first heard the Arizona-based quartet back when they were playing beer-stained dive bars in Tempe, and I’ve maintained my soft spot. Stay on My Side Tonight is reminiscent enough of their roots to reignite my interests, and their upcoming full-length, due October 16, has generated similar buzz. It makes me think that, despite their jump-the-shark potential, everything with J.E.W. will be just fine…everything, everything will be alright, alright. (Skylar Browning)
Jimmy Eat World plays the Wilma Theatre Sunday, Oct. 7, at 8 PM. $21.