“Anais” by Jimmy Eat World

51. Song No. 334: “Anais,” Jimmy Eat World
Invented, 2010

It has been a lifetime since I stopped everything I was doing to live inside a Jimmy Eat World song for a while.

Clarity remains one of the most objectively gorgeous albums ever; while it only took a decade and some change to be something I could finally try to start hearing again, talking about it is still reopening a different wound entirely. But I can’t have a conversation about how much I love music and why it feels so multi-dimensional without addressing the indeliable impact Jimmy Eat World’s third album had on me. I don’t think it’s a desert-island album anymore but its sentimental value alone puts it in a league of its own anyway so typical music metrics don’t matter.

I think, as a consequence of what made it such a significance album and JEW such a well-represented presence in my musical collection, these lingering reminders of devastating forks in the road are playlist pariahs for… however they need to be because grief is never linear or predictable. And it’s necessary but it sucks because, holy shit, I loved this band so much and then couldn’t really listen to ANYTHING by them for years.

Nothing could touch Clarity and Bleed American was its own complicated mess of purely external factors that I loved despite myself and my spite for another band I loved becoming omnipresent in the popular culture I despised. Nothing they did after 2001 really lived up to their first four albums, with the aforementioned two defining Jimmy Eat World’s sound for me.

But here I am, with nearly a decade of their output since then paid for and placed in safekeeping on my iPod (and the deluxe versions of it all at that, apparently). So obviously some part of my brain is smarter than the rest and keeping me in touch with a band that means too much to Me at My Most Formative to completely lose track of. Because obviously a couple of lines like “They say you gotta try everything at least once / Then you’ll understand … I wrote a million words with nothing great to say” are going to tunnel directly into my conscious thought no matter what a daft broad I can be.

It helps that this album was auspiciously announced right as my brother and I were losing our mutual shit over the promise of the Clarity x10 tour, which remains one of the best adventures we’ve gone on together and was one helluva cathartic, emotiinal musical experience that encouraged a brief Jimmy Eat Worl renaissance in my listening habits. Because all things JEW always come back to and start with Clarity.

Also, this song is catchy af. It’s been stuck in my head for days and makes me forget that my embarrassing lack of rythym is often what dissuades me from drumming on every available surface while dealing with an earworm.

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