Sunday, June 15, 2014

Jawbreaker ‎– Dear You (1995)

1995's Dear You finds Jawbreaker cleaning up and streamlining their punk-pop sound and coming up with a sleek, slick punk-grunge classic that relies as much on clever songwriting and restrained emotions as it does on the group's trademarked high-energy attack. From the opening chords of the anthemic "Save Your Generation," Blake Schwarzenbach's vocals are the star. He was coming off of throat surgery that robbed him of a lot of his vocal power but gave him a smoky intimate sound that gives the feeling that he is whispering right in your ear. On songs like "I Love You So Much It's Killing Us Both" or "Jet Black," he sounds wounded in a way that screaming could never convey. The album is a powerful mix of jumpy punk-pop like "Bad Scene," "Everybody's Fault," "Fireman," and the aching "Chemistry" and mid-tempo tracks like the amazing "Jet Black," "Million," and "Basilica that escapes being tied to the time of grunge-by-the-numbers by being melodic and heartfelt without going over the top, by being just punk enough to be real and just epic enough to rise above the often boringly earnest approach of too many punk bands. Along with Weezer's Blue Album, Dear You is one of the cornerstones upon which emo and late-'90s punk-pop were built. Certainly Jimmy Eat World wore out their copy, as Bleed American sounds like a less produced younger brother, and Dashboard Confessional's whole oeuvre sounds like a lesser version of Dear You's acoustic "Unlisted Track." Depending on how you feel about emo, there is either a lot to blame Jawbreaker for or be thankful for here. Either way, Dear You is one of the best rock records of the '90s and a fitting last testament to a great band.
Tim Sendra
Many modern day emo bands will not hesitate to declare Jawbreaker one of their biggest influences, however Jawbreaker is far from being an emo band themselves. It is true that the majority of their songs are about some sort of relationship trouble, but their musical style is a far cry from any form of emo both old and new. With Jawbreaker's final release "Dear You" in 1995 a completely new sound was born that many bands have since tried to duplicate. None of these bands, however, have managed to produce a sound even close to Jawbreaker's. At times it is a sound packed with raw intensity, at other times it is a mellow sound with intricate melodies. A constant in all of the tracks on "Dear You" is a sincere and genuine emotional edge in all of Blake Schwarzenbach's vocals. This is the quality of Jawbreaker's sound that other band's are unable to duplicate. The pinacle of Schwarzenbach's emotional connection to the music an be heard in the track "Jet Black." You can litterally hear the despair in his voice amidst a musical backdrop that cannot come close to matching th vocals in emotional intensity.

The trouble with "Dear You" is that for the most part the tracks sound the same. True, there are slow quiet songs and fast loud but the quiet songs sound like the other quiet songs and the fast songs sound like the other fast songs. I fact almost all of the songs on the album follow the same pattern: A brief intro, a verse, a repeat of the verse, a chorus, a quick solo or interlude, another verse, another chorus, occasionally there is another solo here, and an outro.
The tracks sound so similar that during my first week of owning the album, I would litterally think I was listening to one track only to find out that I was listening to an entirly different one later on in the song. Not only do the songs on "Dear You" sound similar to each other, they sound similar to songs on other Jawbreaker albums. The first part of the chorus in "Save Your Generation" sounds almost identical to the chorus in the song "Chesterfield King" off of Jawbreaker's first album "Bivouac."

Another with Jawbreaker is that aside from the vocals, the musicians rarely showcase their abilities as musicians. Most of the songs are nothing but simple power chords and basic drum rythms. Occasionally there is a complex drum or guitar part but more often than not it's just mediocre musicianship. Lyrically, however, the album is outstanding. Though most of the lyrics are about relationship trouble they somehow don't come off as whiny as emo music does, largely due to Schwarzenbach's unique voice, and I find that it is easy to relate to the lyrics, something difficult for me to do with emo bands.

The highlight of "Dear You" would have to be the final track, which is simply titled "Unlisted Track." Honestly it would probably sound the same as all of the other tracks if not for the fact that it is played on an acoustic guitar.

Jawbreaker's final album "Dear You" is to this day a great example of modern pop punk and is a truly unique album from a truly unique band. Though the tracks sound the same a redeeming quality is that the sound is so unique that it really isn't too much of an issue. Despite the tracks' simalarities and mediocre musicianship i award Jawbreaker's "Dear You" with a 4/5

I don't feel the review section would be complete without someone saying something about this album. Yes, it was the first major label release by Jawbreaker, and their last release of new material as a band, but it still ranks in my top five albums I own. "Dear You" was also the bands first try at crystal clear production. It did cahnge the sound of the band a little(or a lot), but the songs are what really matter(although it would be cool to hear the same songs with the same production as on 24 hour or Bivouac).

These Jawbreaker tunes are shining examples of the bands style. Some are upbeat punk rock songs with odd chord and tempo changes, and some are the heavier alt-rock that could be considered the "grandfather of emo" type songs.All the songs overflow with Blake's poetic and meloncholy lyrics. Some may seem overdone, but if I could convey what he does with my lyrics, I'd probably have a tendancy to overdo it at times myself.

My favorite songs(if I have to pick) would be the opening anthem "Save your generation", the third track "Fireman", which I think has the best words to any Jawbreaker song, and "Accident Prone",a slower song that is soft and easy through some of it, and all out aggression in other parts.It also contains my favorite lines from any song,ever."I couldn't wait to breathe your breath,I cut in line I bled to death, I got to you there was nothing left." Other great songs are the rockin' "Chemistry", the story-telling punk song "Sluterring:May 4th", and the last track, which showcases every sound in the bands repituare, from saddened, slower easy listenin' to furious noise-core.

Some say that the major label demons killed Jawbreaker, and I wouldn't totally disagree with that, but this album is completely amazing and a must have for any fan of good, loud, thought out music with meaning. Believe it or not, I bought it when it was first released way back when for only 8.99$, and it was even at somewhere like Camelot Music. To this date, I have yet to buy an album that has influenced my musical taste as much as "Dear You". If you can find it, attain it, by whatever means neccesary.
Mark Williams

No comments:

Post a Comment