Like most people, my first exposure to Jimmy Eat World was “The Middle” music video. Which ain’t a bad place to start—Bleed American is a great record. But make sure you backstep a little bit too, because missing Clarity is a crime.
But it’s not just a worthwhile album because of what came after it: Clarity is possibly the first great album of emo’s third wave. From the cascading slow burn of “Table for Glasses” to the sixteen-minute, electronics-augmented closing epic “Goodbye Sky Harbor,” every moment of Clarity is masterfully crafted.
It is a patient album, though—nowhere near as immediate as its sequel. There are plenty of fist-pumping, power-chorded choruses, but they are farther and fewer between. Twinkling guitars and extended builds are par for the course, with the occasional rocker thrown in (see: “Your New Aesthetic,” “Blister,” “Clarity”).
Some might say this makes it a more boring listen than Bleed American, but I’d disagree. It isn’t as satisfying on casual listens, but give it the time it deserves, and you will be richly rewarded.