Jawbreaker's latest 'rocks' despite poor vocals

By Helena Ribeiro

Arizona Daily Wildcat

So Tim was on the phone with a friend from Seattle one time, and I asked him what he was doing. "I'm getting drunk and listening to Jawbreaker," he said.

"Must be a girl, huh?"

And that's it. Jawbreaker is the band you listen to when you are inordinately crushed out on someone. Every boy Jawbreaker fan is into them because he wishes he had written the lyrics, and every girl Jawbreaker fan wishes they had been written about her.

So I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of their new album, Dear You. I had heard a few of their new songs at their Phoenix/Tucson shows this summer, and had totally fallen in love with "Million." So I gave the tape a listen. And I HATED it. At first.

Here's the deal:

Band who claimed they would never, ever sign to a major loaded the gun (a .22, natch) and jumped to Geffen. Last October, I went online with the news and no one believed me (insert "I told you so" here). No one knows exact figures, but word on the street estimates somewhere between 1 and 2 million American dollars. They're not exactly diving onto the Green Day/Rancid/Offspring bandwagon, as the record is hardly 3-chord, poppy, or stoopid, but I believe they intend to cruise down the same street, at least.

Politics aside, here's the actual REVIEW:

The lyrics are more despair to Bivouac's (their second album) gloom. Nearly every song is about a break-up of some sort, or about how Blake (Schwarzenbach, the autobiographical lyricist/vocalist/guitarist) destroys all he comes close to. He still employs his trademark cliches, and sometimes he succeeds in turning them into fresh-sounding expressions. And sometimes he misses, bad: "I am jet black/ i am stone cold/ i am jet black to the center." Ugh. But generally, his lyrics (which can usually pass for poetry) are amazing.

Musically, these boys rock. They have become amazingly comfortable with their instruments, although Chris Bauermeister's bass is barely audible at times.

But I really, really can't stand the vocals, which used to be my favorite part of Jawbreaker. Over-produced, excesssively compressed, Blake's vocals sound computer-generated. His once rageddy, raw, raspy yawl has become soome overly-mellow, hushed stage-whisper. And this truly breaks my heart. What made Jawbreaker the raddest band in the world were their quirks: Blake's lyrics, his tobacco-addled, polyped larynx, and Chris' amazing basslines.

So it's a decent album. It's very obviously a major label album. And it's tightness and perfect production leave it flawed.

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