Jawbreaker

It’s a harsh reality that many of rock’s greatest albums never get the chance to truly be heard. Such is the case with Jawbreaker’s major-label debut Dear You, an album that was a colossal commercial failure yet has posthumously become one of the most celebrated albums of the ‘90s. The opener “Save Your Generation” sets Dear You’s tone early, featuring a melodic pop sensibility that’s augmented with buzzing Les Pauls, driving drums, and frontman Blake Schwarzenbach’s signature one-liners such as “A simple rule: every day be sure you wake.”

While many discs these days are faulted for not being diverse enough, ironically Dear You follows a distinctive formula that makes it nearly perfect from start to finish. The Bay Area punk act weren’t emulating anyone else—instead they helped define a sound that has informed everyone from Jimmy Eat World to Motion City Soundtrack. Sure, the band drop the BPMs and feature a Nirvana-esque single note riff on the album’s first single “Fireman” (remember this was the ‘90s) and get proto-emo on the atmospheric “Jet Black,” but for the most part Dear You shows the band perfecting their own brand of melodic punk rock.

Ultimately, there’s not a single standout track on the album; each song fits perfectly in the landscape of the album—and one gets the feeling that even if MP3 technology had existed back in 1995, the band would still write an album as cohesive and satisfying as Dear You. “Even if you hear this song a hundred times it still won’t be enough,” Schwartzenbach screams emphatically during “Stuttering (May 4th).”
For an emerging generation of punk and emo bands, he’s proved prophetic. After being out of print for nearly a decade, the album was reissued in 2005 and now all of us have the opportunity to hear that song as well as the rest of Dear You. Oh, and this time around you’ve got no excuse not to listen.