Creating an album is a lost art. So often an album in 2017 is just a collection of tracks, but there remain some artists out there that craft albums like the greats once did. An album needs to begin with a track that pulls in the listener and needs to end with one that leaves a real impression. That closing track is probably the most important, because it summarizes the albums tone while packing a final gutpunch. Failure to hit hard with a powerful closer probably hurts an album worse than anything else. Today, I want to give thanks for a band who damn well knows how to close an album and has been doing it for years, Jimmy Eat World.
Exhibit A. The alternative rock anthem “23”, closer to the band’s 2004 effort Futures. The album opens strong with “Futures” and features two big, catchy hits, “Pain” and “Work”. However, it’s the closer, “23”, that is the album’s most powerful and personal song. The song gained popularity when Jimmy Eat World played it in an episode of the CW’s One Tree Hill. The show included it on the second volume of their soundtrack, entitled Friends with Benefit: Music from the Television Series One Tree Hill, Volume 2. This song has become a fan favorite and it closes out the powerful 2004 album in a strong and fitting manner.
Exhibit B. On Jimmy’s previous album, the one that really broke them into the limelight, the album starts and begins on potent and forceful notes. The opening track, “Bleed American”, shares its title with the album and is a scathing commentary on what it means to be an American. However, it’s “My Sundown” that wraps the album up with a powerful statement on closing the door to an old chapter in life and moving on to bigger things. While “23” seems to have grown more popular with fans, “My Sundown” seems to be a really important point in the band’s career. It seems to tell of the band’s maturation and and growth into a new chapter of their careers. As a fan, it feels like Bleed American is a bridge album from their indie years to their pop years and this song kind of tells that story. Again, as a closer, it’s both a summary of the album’s worth of songs that precedes it and a sonic boom that leaves a impression. It’s another example of the band knowing exactly how to close an album.
Exhibit C. This one is the big kahuna, the best closing track ever recorded, as far as I’m concerned. Seeing this performed live during the “Clarity X 10 Tour” was a highlight of my concert-going career. This song is 16 minutes of musical beauty. It packs that all-important gutpunch in its lush sound and its simple, sparse lyrics… “I am but one small instrument”… aren’t we all?