Bleed American's title-track opener fires on all cylinders to start things off. The heavy riffing of the intro and chorus touches on the alt-rock styles of the time, but in a harder-hitting way than most of the band's emo-background contemporaries. Jim Adkin's slightly raw vocal delivery and deliciously clever lyricism show off the mainstream alt appeal the band is capable of.
A Praise Chorus keeps the tempo up and harks to nostalgia and growing up, through the eyes of an optimism that is refreshingly pure. The bridge is well-crafted, using lyrics from familiar songs to build up a whole new verse of its own. It's a heartfelt tribute to music and memories that leads well into the equally heartfelt and upbeat The Middle. This song is known as the song that Made The Band™, and needs no real introduction or explanation. Everyone my age knows someone who loves this song.
Your House brings a softer vulnerability to the mix, with almost island-inspired rhythms and instrumentation. This sweet little number muses on starting over for a bit, a well-placed deep breath before the much heavier Sweetness. This track is my personal favorite of the album, as its high energy and minor-key leanings foster a sense of realistic determination in the music.
Hear You Me is one of the most honest songs I've ever heard for a fallen loved one -- it's touching, imagining the situation that drew the performances out of the band for this recording. Uplifting, emotional, and altogether sharp, it's a great winding down and emotional release from the first half of the album.
If You Don't, Don't, the epitome of a generic pop love song, is enjoyable but not a huge high point. Get It Faster mixes things up with some ambient sounds and quiet instrumentation that points to the band's previous effort, Clarity -- then breaks into rock mode with the first chorus and keeps it going to the end that way. The album stops again, momentum-wise, at the introspective and atmospheric Cautioners. While this is a great song, it feels out of place -- like they weren't sure where they wanted the album to go after the first six songs.
Especially when the followup, Authority Song, seems like a distant cousin of A Praise Chorus (remember that track, back when you were ultra-hyped about this album, kids?) musically, while being something totally different lyrically. I get touches of "Buddy Holly" by Weezer. Fun track, great to sing to, but it doesn't help the pacing issues here one bit with it's midtempo stride.
And then down to the close with My Sundown -- a slow summation of what seem to be the main themes of the album. Mellow and therapeutic. A great closer, and honestly a saving grace for the album as a whole. Trent Reznor used this trick on With Teeth (namely saving an otherwise decent album from mediocrity with a great closer), but Jimmy Eat World did it first, and better.