When Jimmy Eat World released 'Futures' in 2004, one would think that the band were now only writing dark and depressing songs that although epic and well put together, were a real change to their original, purposeful sound. However, J.E.W changed yet again with 2007's 'Chase This Light', being incredibly upbeat pop rock with barley a tear jerker on the album. That's where 'Stay On My Side Tonight' comes in - released between the two albums mentioned, still smarting with emotional distress. Fans of 'Futures' will adore this, as its takes place immediately where they left off, almost like it would suit as b-sides or a 2 disc special edition set. That being said, the 3 main tracks are certainly not meagre bonus songs..
'Disintegration' very slowly grinds fourth with a bumbling guitar, circling a riff over and over until a clean guitar chimes in like rays of light, brightening an already dark atmosphere. Drums seem unsure and can barely manage combinations of 2. "I've spent my last nights strung up and pulled tight, holding out, sleep and grow. An answer comes without a please" vocalist and guitarist Jim Adkins breathes heavily for a sombre verse. "I wonder why I'm so caught off guard when we kiss. I'd rather live my life in regret than do this" suddenly the song leaps into life. A squirming guitar riff jangles behind the words and the percussion becomes a polar opposite of its former self, making destructive, vicious bursts. "This poison comes instruction free" the 2nd verse is equally upsetting "Do what you want, but I'm drinking". Somehow the chorus becomes even more prominent, getting louder and focused, this time fading out to a subtle interlude and a gritty declaration of "Lie lie better next time, stay on my side tonight " gradually gaining momentum and desperately harmonised with all band members taking part, and soon enough, merging with the chorus. "What happened to the love we both knew, we both chased? Hanging on a cigarette you need me you burn me you'll burn me". A stunning 7 minute introduction to an already far too short EP.
Things don't get much happier in 'Over', this time a bit lighter and less menacing. "I'm not exactly sure what I should say. Everything I do is a mistake" is typical of the mood until there's some jazzy backing vocals going on and even a swift piano line towards the end of the chorus' (strangely similar to Jimmy Eat World's 'LittleThing'). "You're over it, over me. Present just physically. The last words from the dying scene You're over me." provides the chorus with subdued guitar work that rises on occasion, especially when the bridge comes around. Somehow the darkest lyrics are sang with a more joyous vibe - "The old days all went bad. Rotted, wilted black. Before you'd have a chance to call, I'll be on the next train home". Its impact is significantly lesser than 'Disintegration' but it is far more laid back and breezy. 'Closer' consequently does make for happier listening. From the first few chords you can tell its the positive side that sometimes shone through from the past album. "I'll need sunshine, I'll need rest, pour us whiskey, water, kiss".
The bass finally becomes more noticeable as the guitars are demoted to quieter settings and it becomes largely about the vocals and feel good melody. Some of the vocal work is reminiscent of older Jimmy songs like some found on 'Clarity', as do the use of glockenspiels' similar to that of 'Goodbye Sky Harbor'. Theres no proper structure without a chorus but it doesn't matter when you have such a lovely interlude / solo. At first its built up with drums and various backing ba-da-da's, then surges through with an effects fueled guitar that screeches out alongside some sink hole sounds and environment noise. Soon enough the guitar solo turns into a duel guitar solo with the addition of a far janglier-twanglier sounding axe. It really sparkles and has a larger impact after the previous 2 downers. Its a blurry eyed 5 minutes of madness towards the end. I hadn't heard of the band 'HeatMiser' before, so the cover of their song 'Half Right' is somewhat of a mystery at first. Its clear though that this band heavily influenced Jimmy Eat World. The songs is acoustic and downplayed and floats through at a slower pace compared to the other tracks. Muttering 'He was a sucker for your double dose. Mother f*cker turned white as a ghost" is a bit of a pleasant shock to hear when the band rarely swear and the song seemed so comfortable and universal. It fades out with some wobbly guitar and sounds of the tide coming in on the shore.
The only questionable track is the finale 'Drugs Or Me (Styrofoam Remix)'. The one track that feels like it was thrown on for the sake of taking up more space. A bit unnecessary when the first 4 songs have already spanned 20 minutes. That's not to say its not a well done remix, because at times it seems very funky. Perhaps its because I personally have no interest in remixed songs, or more possibly because the original version of the song is so deep and at times upsetting. The title offers all you need to know about the lyrical content, but when its made to sound so groovy (and a bit silly) its almost a mockery. The vocals are ripped apart and rearranged all over the place while a nice bassy synth shows up a bit late to save what little impression the remix made. The rare and ridiculous genre of 'Glitch Electronica' is really worth a mention, as its the best way to describe all the noises going on in the song. Definitely worth a listen to any Jimmy fan, but a bit out of the way for newer listeners. Shame really as again it showcases some sublime songwriting that remains unknown to both fans and other audiences.