Clarity (Jimmy Eat World album)
|Studio album by Jimmy Eat World|
|Released||February 23, 1999|
|Recorded||1998–1999 at Sound City and Clear Lake Audio, Los Angeles|
|Genre||Emo, alternative rock, power pop, indie rock|
|Jimmy Eat World chronology|
|Singles from Clarity|
Clarity is the third studio album by American alternative rock band Jimmy Eat World, released on February 23, 1999 through Capitol Records. Overlooked upon its release, Clarity has since amassed cult status and critical acclaim, often lauded as one of the best records of the 1990s. Praise centered on its dynamic instrumentation, as well as the heartfelt delivery of singer-guitarist-lyricist Jim Adkins. Various music critics have credited the album for serving as a huge influence on modern-day emo music. However, despite critical praise and promotion of the single "Lucky Denver Mint" in the Drew Barrymore comedy film Never Been Kissed, Clarity was commercially unsuccessful in a musical climate dominated by teen pop, and the band was dropped from Capitol Records the following year.
After being dropped by Capitol, the band used this time to undertake extensive touring which allowed them to self-fund recording sessions for their eventual mainstream breakthrough, Bleed American (2001). The album was remastered and re-released in 2007, featuring additional bonus tracks. Two years later, the band released Clarity Live (2009), recorded during its commemorative tenth anniversary tour.
The album was recorded in late 1998, to early 1999 at Sound City and Clear Lake Audio, both in North Hollywood, tracks were mixed at One on One in Los Angeles, Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood.
The album Clarity marks the start of Jim Adkins - as opposed to Tom Linton providing lead vocals, with the exception of the song "Blister," Tom from this point only provided backing vocals on various tracks until 2010's "Action Needs an Audience". The song "Goodbye Sky Harbor" is written based on the John Irving novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany.
The 2009 vinyl re-release package includes bonus tracks “Christmas Card” and a demo of "Sweetness", as well as a Clarity 2009 tour T-shirt. The 16 pictures used on the album's cover were shot by Paul Drake, Crissy Piper and J Gnewikow, on the original releases of the album, for the 2009 re-issue all 16 images appear on the front of the vinyl. Art company The Uprising were hired to re-work the art for the 2009 release, using the original images, "...we were brought on to reconstruct and reinterpret the original artwork. We wanted to stay true to the original, but give it a slightly more sophisticated and updated look & feel. These reconstructions are always a little tricky because you rarely get all of the original art assets you need, but this turned out fantastic. And the actual prints look amazing!".
Clarity x 10 Tour
The 2009 US Clarity x 10 Tour, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Clarity, was announced in November 2008 and goes across 10 dates in 10 different states, opening on February 23 at Terminal 5, New York, February 24, 930 Club Washington DC, February 25, Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia, February 26, House of Blues, Boston, February 28 at the Metro in Chicago, March 2 at the Ogden Theater in Denver, March 4 at The Fillmore in San Francisco, March 5 at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, March 6 at San Diego's House of Blues and then ending in the band's home state of Arizona on March 7 at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, support for the tour comes from No Knife and Reuben's Accomplice. The band has been extensively rehearsing in studio and on February 12 performed a rehearsal live over the internet. The band has also been using the social network Twitter to update and share photos and other material from the studio. The band released Clarity Live - a digital-only release of the Clarity x 10 tour's finale, recorded in Tempe - on April 7, 2009.
Reception and legacy
|The New York Times||(favorable)|
Despite being largely overlooked upon its release, the album's critical stature has grown in time. A contemporaneous review of Clarity by Pitchfork Media was dismissive of the album. In retrospect, the album is now viewed as a "masterpiece", a "landmark album of the 1990s", and "the Led Zeppelin IV of emo rock". In 2008, Spin magazine polled members of seventeen modern-day bands, all of whom cited Jim Adkins’ writing and performance on the record as a primary influence. Similarly, Manchester Orchestra bassist Jonathan Corley, in an interview with Rip it Up magazine, said that Clarity was one of his all-time favourite records and one that "changed the way I look at music." Preceding the band's tenth anniversary tour of the album, Pete Cottell of The Phoenix New Times wrote, "What's truly admirable about the album is that it moves in so many different directions without getting lost on its journey. There's a tirade against shameless conformity ("Your New Aesthetic"), a herky-jerky, post-punk Police homage ("Believe in What You Want"), and a shimmering power ballad ("For Me This Is Heaven"). While ("Goodbye Sky Harbor") spills over with layered harmonies, chiming guitar passages, and 808 spurt. Unlike the 12 other tracks on Clarity, it's an almost impossible undertaking upon first listen. Once you've made it to the 13-minute mark, however, you'll never hit the skip button again." Leor Galil of the Bostonist, noted that, "The album has been hailed as a cult and indie classic, and is one of a few go-to records that cemented an aural aesthetic known as emo, and is a genuinely deft and moving piece of music from start to finish. No wonder a proposal for Continuum's 33⅓ book series about Clarity is in the running for potential-future publication." Writing in 2003, Andy Greenwald called it "one of the most fiercely beloved rock 'n' roll records of the last decade. It is name-checked by every single contemporary emo band as their favorite album, as a mind-bending milemarker that proved that punk rock could be tuneful, emotional, wide-ranging, and ambitious."
Upon its re-issue in 2007, Blender magazine awarded a 4.5 star rating and noted that it was, "1999's masterful Clarity that established a foundation for 21st century emo. Dozens of weepy bottom-feeders have tried to write mid-20s angst anthems better than the soaring ‘Lucky Denver Mint’ or the delicately heartbroken ‘Just Watch The Fireworks’– but few have succeeded." Allmusic praised the album and awarded a four star rating. Mark Vanderhoff stated; "Clarity mixes introspective balladry with power-chord punk rock, elements of chamber pop, and subtle doses of electronica to create a remarkably unique album". Tim Nelson of the BBC was praiseworthy in his 2007 review of the remastering. "The band and Trombino deserve credit for blending heartfelt, yearning vocals and rock dynamics with adventurous production and unique instrumentation" Alternative Press included the album in their "10 Classic Albums of 1999" feature. Scott Heisel wrote, "Like Weezer's Pinkerton before it, the album has gone on to serve as the birthplace of emo's third wave. The sixteen-minute closing track "Goodbye Sky Harbor", with its organic breakdown/electronic build up is often imitated but never duplicated. Proving its far better to test your own limits than rely on the parameters of others - which is the exact reason why Clarity resonates with tens of thousands of people, a decade later". Nate Chinen, writing for The New York Times, accounted that "Clarity was a pivotal album for Jimmy Eat World, the first to feature Jim Adkins on lead vocals instead of Mr. Linton and the last to reflect the heart-on-sleeve values of emocore more than the hard gleam of pop-punk. The songs convey acute self-awareness along with flashes of grace and insolence: the album is a pitch-perfect teenage plaint." Kerrang! magazine awarded the album five K's, which indicates "classic", and also labelled the album as the band's "Essential Purchase" in an article years later; "Glorious is perhaps the best word to capture the essence of Clarity. Overflowing with flawless melodies backed up not only by magnificent musicianship but a ton of heart, this is the album that renders the label 'emo' redundant. Every note and syllable resonates with the kind of heartfelt emotion we'd like to think is poured into everything we listen to".
Harry Guerin of RTÉ Entertainment gave the album a full five star rating in his review. He described the album as a, "dense, beautiful collection which sees them bring in orchestras, drum loops and programming and find space for killer choruses, ballads and left field forays. The shortest song is under three minutes, the longest over 16 and the more you listen to all of them the more you'll wonder why this masterpiece wasn't massive" Record Collector were also highly favourable. Eleanor Goodman awarded four stars out of five in her review and commented, "though the multicoloured cover of 1999’s Clarity became familiar in music shops. Its combination of melancholy, introspective pop with faster punk rock broke the band in the US". Sputnikmusic staff reviewer Andrew Hartwig rated the album with a "Superb" 4.5 out of 5 rating. He praised the musicianship of the band; "Musically, the band are excellent. The drumming is sophisticated and original and the use of two guitars is a great addition to the band. The aforementioned range of added instruments adds immensely to the arrangements of the songs". He went on to summarise, "Clarity is an album full of sensible pop songs, replay value and a diverse range of instruments and sounds. Truly one of the best albums of the 90s". Charles Merwin of Stylus gave the album an "A" grade and called it a "minor masterpiece — a product of its time and as important to modern emo as Weezer's Pinkerton".
|1.||"Table for Glasses"||4:22|
|2.||"Lucky Denver Mint"||3:50|
|3.||"Your New Aesthetic"||2:50|
|4.||"Believe in What You Want"||3:08|
|9.||"Just Watch the Fireworks"||7:03|
|10.||"For Me This Is Heaven"||4:04|
|13.||"Goodbye Sky Harbor"||16:13|
|14.||"What I Would Say to You Now"||2:34|
Appearance in other media
The line "It's to Jimmy Eat World and those nights in my car when the 'first star you see may not be a star.' I'm not your star" from Something Corporate's 2003 song "Konstantine" is a direct reference to lyrics from the song "For Me This is Heaven."
On The Wonder Years track "Solo & Chewy: Holdin' It Down" off of their 2008 EP titled Won't Be Pathetic Forever, they make reference to both the album Clarity and specifically the song "Goodbye Sky Harbor" with the line "Arizona's airport is called Sky Harbor. I wonder if that's what the last song on Clarity's about".
- Jimmy Eat World
- Jim Adkins – lead vocals, lead guitar, keys, string arrangement, lyrics, art direction
- Rick Burch – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Zach Lind – drums, percussion, vibes, bells, chimes, programming
- Tom Linton – rhythm guitar, vocals, piano, lyrics
- Additional musicians
- Joel Derouin – violin
- Suzie Katayama – cello, string arrangement
- Mark Trombino – minimoog, sequencing, additional percussion, programming
- Dean Fisher – engineering assistant
- Brian Gardner – mastering
- Nick Raskulinecz – engineering assistant
- Ron Rivera – engineering assistant
- Justin Smith – engineering assistant
- Mark Trombino – production, engineering, mixing
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- "Jimmy Eat World Celebrate a Decade of "Clarity" in LA". Hollywood Icon. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- Greenwald, pp. 103–104.
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- Jimmy Eat World - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Clarity Vinyl Reissue The Uprising, January 22, 2009
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- , Pitchfork Media, December 31, 1999. (Internet Archive version)
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- Clarity (CD). Jimmy Eat World. Capitol Records. 1999.