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Jawbreaker

Dear You (Blackball)

In the early '90s, emo-punk forefathers Jawbreaker wrote a slew of brazenly honest and desperately depressing tunes that connected them to their audience like old war buddies. Though they were regular spokesmen for staying independent and shunning major labels, the band jumped ship to Geffen in 1995 for their fourth album, Dear You. It was a move that caught them a lot of flak from some of their most devoted fans, and the album was not a hit by major-label standards. After playing some shows with Nirvana on the In Utero tour, Jawbreaker split up. Singer-guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach went on to form the mellower and gooier Jets to Brazil.

But the story didn't quite end there. After the cries of "sellout" died down, Dear Youcame to be perceived by many as a seminal record, a mature, poignant, exhilarating knockout. More inspired than any of the emo whiners that came after them, Jawbreaker wrote enduring homages to stolen moments, train tracks, empty bottles and messed-up girls. In recent years, bands like Dashboard Confessional, Alkaline Trio, the Lawrence Arms and Bayside all borrowed Jawbreaker's style, while the band's masterpiece, Dear You, languished out of print. Now, the band has reissued the record with five exceptional bonus tracks.

Originally released after 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, their most rawly produced record, Dear You features Schwarzenbach's smoker's hack of a voice sounding much smoother after throat surgery, and the production is polished and not so punk. The songs range from clever, self-conscious outcast anthems like "Bad Scene, Everybody's Fault" and "Chemistry" to magnificent tell-offs to ex-girlfriends such as "Sluttering (May 4th)" and "Oyster."

Most fans of Jawbreaker will already have a worn copy of Dear You, but the reissue is worth getting for the bonus tracks, including "Shirt," a rare upbeat song from those same dark sessions.

 
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