April 01, 2004

Jawbreaker "Dear You" (Expanded Edition)

To say that this reissue is something that's welcome is an understatement. When I finally heard Dear You, I fell in love with it almost immediately. I couldn't understand why this record inspired such utter hate and animosity. Oh yeah, I do: it's because Jawbreaker's fans invested heavily into Blake Schwarzenbach. How heavily? Well, let's just say that when they signed to Geffen, people considered it the greatest treason since Judas got paid, and Dear You was viewed as the Ultimate Sell-Out. Fans paid money to see them live, just to heckle them. That the band broke up not too long after Dear You was released is not surprising, either. The record didn't sell, the band broke up and the album immediatly went out of print.

Of cuorse, this little thing called the Internet appeared not too long after, and Jawbreaker fans all over the world started to connect. All of a sudden this album--this sell-out record, this slick major label record--started to be seen in a different view. Instead of being neglected, people started to talk. They started to rethink this record they disliked. When Blake returned with his new band Jets to Brazil, talk again came up about the mythic, long-lost Dear You--an album that fans couldn't buy in stores and was a badge of honor for those who had it--and comparisons to it arose when discussing Jets' debut, Orange Rhyming Dictionary. Seems that Blake's polished, well-thought out love songs weren't just bankrolled of DGC.

It's a good thing that Dear You is now rescued from the clutches of eBay collectors--you couldn't buy a copy for less than thirty bucks. I'm really happy that people can actually hear what great songs were on here. Though I feel sorry that things had to go all crazy for them because of this record, it's nowhere near as bad as people made it out to be then. If anything, it's easily the forefather of Modern Day E*o--which they've since apologized for creating. Still, you can't go wrong with "Fireman," the first single that sank like a stone, and I've always been partial to "Sluttering (May 4th)." Schwarzenbach's voice is rough, ragged and tainted with the stains and pangs of regret, and songs like "Bad Scene, Your Fault" and "Oyster" show that he was somewhat aware of the fate which awaited him.

As for the additional features, there's really not that much, but that's okay, as the mere fact that the album's back in print is the greatest gift of all. The artwork design is pretty much the same, though photos have been added for each lyric. (My favorite is the picture of Kurt Cobain in some hotel room, proudly wearing a Jawbreaker shirt, with baby Francis at his feet.) Sure, there's the never-seen video for "Fireman" (a holy grail of pop-punk if ever there was one), but if you bought Etc., you'll have most of the bonus tracks, except for "Shirt." Don't worry, though, because it's a great tune that certainly adds to this already great album, and the other songs are a plus, too. I'm especially fond of the rerecording of the popular "Boxcar," which could have--should have--been a hit, had 1995 been 2001. The other three songs are still awesome, and "Friendly Fire" shows that Blake knew exactly what was going to happen to him next. Smart yet painfully aware, it's as if he accepted his fate from day one.

Dear You was one of the best albums of the Nineties that you never got the chance to hear--until now. The band seem to see this as closing the book on Jawbreaker, and I'm sure it is. Even though they didn't know it at the time, they created a great work of art for the sad-eyed and emotionally dejected, and it's good to see the record getting the respect it deserves. (Now if only someone will come along and reissue Destination:Failure...)

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.blackballrecords.com

1 comment:

Chus said...
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