While the former album contained a few hits (including ‘Coconut’ and ‘Without You’), this one was a bit more eccentric and produced just one single (‘Spaceman’).
But, oh, what a beginning! The first six tracks (‘Mexican Wine,’ ‘Bright Future in Sales,’ ‘Stacy’s Mom,’ ‘Hackensack,’ ‘No Better Place’ and ‘Valley Winter Song’) make up one of the greatest runs I’ve ever heard. Smart, hooky power pop peppered with a couple of melancholy ballads, that stretch is a display of pure songwriting genius by Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger.
After three records on which the band stuck to its signature sound of two acoustic guitars and a set of bongo drums, this album saw the trio introduce traditional drums and bass to the mix. While the move was met with skepticism by some fans, it resulted in their best album.
Much of World Without Tears is relentlessly bleak, touching on sexual abuse, drug addiction, domestic violence and historical atrocities. Fun!
The earnest acoustic singer-songwriter’s abrupt move into dance-pop territory was greeted with suspicion and derision at the time. Jewel was called a sell-out who embarrassed herself by embracing her sexuality and exploring a musical genre so far outside her wheelhouse. But I kinda loved it.