Last time out, on 2010’s ‘Invented,’ the early-to-mid-30s members of Jimmy Eat World wrote and sang heartbreak songs that didn’t sound all that different than the heartbreak songs they wrote and sang a decade earlier, when they were a lot closer to their awkward teen years. It wasn’t exactly a comfortable fit. Who wants to hear guys who should be settling into fatherhood whining about lost love and pimply-kid stuff like that?

Something must have happened to them over the past three years -- nothing too earth-shattering huge, but big enough that it makes a difference on ‘Damage,’ their seventh album. Jimmy Eat World, particularly singer-songwriter frontman Jim Adkins, who’s now 37, have grown up a bit since ‘Invented.’ ‘Damage’’s songs are still mostly about heartbreak and the stupid things we do for love -- it’s what Jimmy Eat World do, after all – but now they sound like they’re coming from people who’ve lived and learned a little, or at least from songwriters who’ve moved on from their teens.

But the big, meaty pop hooks that the band has played since its 1994 debut, and perfected on 2001’s ‘Bleed American,’ are still intact. Driven by indie-rock riffs that split the difference between power pop and what used to be called emo (several structured around acoustic guitars this time), songs like album opener ‘Appreciation,’ ‘Lean’ and ‘How’d You Have Me’ sound primed for your next breakup playlist.

Still, you can’t help but wish these dudes would just get on with their lives already. Adkins sums it up best on ‘Damage’’s title track: “I want someone who lives up to this grandeur in my head.” With expectations reaching such majestic heights, it’s no wonder he’s always in a state of heartbreak. And in the anthem-sized ‘I Will Steal You Back,’ his obsessions consume what seems to be his every waking moment.

“I’m not asking for a fix,” declares Adkins on ‘Lean,’ but don’t believe him. He is. And he’ll keep looking for it in a partner probably until the day he dies. It’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s a sucker for love, but he and his bandmates get closer to understanding it with each album. At this rate, they’ll be all grown up in another 20 years.

6 out of 10 rating

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