Static Prevails is the second album by Jimmy Eat World. It was released on July 23, 1996.
Summary: Jimmy Eat World show their teeth.
Jimmy Eat World have reached that musical Nirvana where they are accessible, and yet embraced by the music community. They can do no wrong, especially after they released the huge-selling 'Bleed American' and catapulted themselves into the big leagues.
Of course, it is always interesting to see where a band started from.
'Static Prevails' was Jimmy Eat World growing into their own style, and finding a voice which really suited them, spurred on by bands like Sunny Day Real Estate.
And it is very good.
The album opens with 'Thinking, That's All' - a mid-tempo song which sets the tone for the album - heavy but with a melodic bite. Jim Adkins' voice fits the angry tone, and his and Tom Linton's guitars mesh into a snarling whole, and in the choruses, Linton's deeper voice sings the words while Adkins screams in the background. It is a great pairing, and a fine opening song.
'Rockstar' switches vocal duties over to Linton, and his deeper, more melodious style links well with the fist-raising, anthemic chorus which you will probably find yourself humming for a long time after. It is a heart warming rock song that shows the signs of the JEW we know today.
'Claire' could almost be a ballad, with its lovelorn lyrics, and Adkins takes control of the singing once again. The guitars have been pared back a small notch, but still have the intensity to keep you hooked, with gentle plucks sounding clear in the mix. A great track.
'Call It In The Air' is a fast-paced punk song, with empassioned yells and buzzsaw guitars being the order of the day. Adkins' vocal harmonies are heartfelt while retaining an edge. In short, another good song to add to the list.
'Seventeen' hands the vocal baton to Linton once again, and he is faultless, giving the crunching but emotional guitars an excellent singer to bounce off. The chorus is simple, but all the more heart-rending for it - Adkins and Linton both yell "They'll take you, where you won't come back to me!" like they very much mean it. Another one that'll stick in your head.
'Episode IV' is a breather after the pounding pace set by the songs preceding it, but this does not signify a drop in quality. Far from it. Linton continues on the mic, singing softly with his heart firmly on his sleeve, and the lyrics capture the essence of teenage insouciance - "We'll dance off time to songs we've never liked, and sing off key, thinking it sounds alright". A sad, brilliant track.
'Digits' shows more ambition, with a Slint like instrumental for its intro. The guitars chime and interplay, leaving you unsure as to what's going to happen next. Then, out of nowhere, the band come back in with a crash, and Adkins yells with a ferocity that with make you nearly jump out of your seat. The song tumbles along in punk pop fashion for a while, before leading into a gentle outro, with Adkins' vocals soaring over the top, and the last sounds in the song are soft chirps of birds. Fantastic music.
'Caveman' is a welcome return to Linton's singing, and the song is in the vein of 'Rockstar', but does not suffer for it at all. It is another rousing rocker that could launch a thousand stadium lighters, as wel as being pretty hard to forget.
'World Is Static' enters slowly, with a pulsing drumbeat underpinning tense guitars and growling bass. Then, the song leaps out at you like a tiger in the bushes, grabbing you the throat as Adkins yells into your face. It kicks and snarls with the most angst-ridden songs on the album, until the outro, where the vocals begin to harmonise, and the song ends on a slightly happier note than when it started. Another gem.
'In The Same Room' lulls you into a false sense of security with its soft intro, and then the guitars gradually thunder in, monolithic and powerful for some parts, and pulling back for dreamy, softer sections. The band's knowledge of attack and release is shown here, with thrilling results.
'Robot Factory' gallops along with a nervy intensity, and Linton sounds more anxious here than he has on the entire album - you can feel it, especially when he gives way to a yell near the end.
'Anderson Mesa' begins slowly, with plucked guitars and a calm rhythm section, until at the 2:34 mark, it drops into a down tempo chug, which unfolds over the rest of the song, and you won't want it to end, but it does, with lilting guitar plucks signifying the end of a fine album.
Worth every penny, and a great introduction to Jimmy Eat World.
Sound: Jimmy Eat World. 1996. Four good dudes just trying to make some sweet alternative rock. After changing their old punk style from their first album, the band started making up their own style of rock music. The best way anyone could ever describe this album would be "prog-alternative-emocore" (as in Sunny Day Real Estate emocore). There are some harder songs like "Caveman", "Thinking, That's All", and "World Is Static." However, if you're not into artsy rock, a lot of these songs won't appeal to you due to their lack of a distinctive melody in a lot of the songs. Good drumming, nice bass lines, and some really innovative guitar work (although a lack in solos) appears in this album. // 9
Lyrics and Singing: Great lyrics that are semi-incoherent at times, partly because of Jim Adkins rough voice, but mostly due to their vagueness and almost transcendant quality. They go along with the music most of the time, but I think the lyrics were meant to be more poetic than regular "song lyrics." Most deal with what appear to be lingering memories, friends, and girls. // 10
Impression: Sonically similar to Jimmy's Clarity album, except for the additional instruments being used on Clarity. Most impressive songs for me were "Anderson Mesa", "Thinking That's All", "Robot Factory", and "Claire." There are some very epic and brooding songs on this record, so if you bought it thinking it was gonna be a thirty minute pop stint, you were completely blown away. If I lost this album, I would definitely go buy another copy, the reason being that Static Prevails isn't sold as frequently as the other Jimmy albums. Great record, great songs, great band. Go buy it! // 9
With their third album Clarity being one of the most overlooked masterpieces of 1999, Static Prevails is Jimmy Eat World paying their dues in 1996. It could be the slight over-production (a curse that has always haunted the band), being on a major label for the first time, or them trying to get a feel for pulling fancy studio tricks (i.e., numerous backing vocals, cellos, and Moog additions). Maybe it's all three, but what Static Prevails essentially lacks is the songwriting maturity that Jimmy Eat World could have perfected; but it's almost as if the studio heads at Capitol wouldn't let them so that there would be more room for radio-friendly pop songs. In the end, nobody won. However, tracks such as "Anderson Mesa," "Call It in the Air," and "Seventeen" don't cross that line of boring alternative rock but remain in that aggressive pop status.
Nothing close to classic, but definitely a sign of better things to come.Mike DaRonco