Aside from slicker production from John Agnello and more direct lyrics, not much separates Jawbox's only non-transitional record from For Your Own Special Sweetheart. It could be argued that the band could have gotten a little too comfortable playing together or just plain too damn skilled. At times it sounds so effortless that you wonder if they could have sleepwalked their way through the recording. Granted they never sound as if the passion isn't there, but the clean, dirt-free production might detract from that to a casual listener's ears. The band's arrangements are just as strong as ever, perhaps more so. But another issue is an apparent too-worked-over nature. Were overdubbed acoustic guitars really needed? Were all those additional layers really necessary? They sound like a kid who breezes through an anatomy exam, finishing half an hour before anyone else -- the kid decides to stay at his desk and scribble the internal organs of a nurse shark, rather than risk the embarrassment of looking like such a smarty-pants to the rest of the class.
More frustrating than anything else was that the slicker-sounding record left no impact on modern rock radio. But then again, just how many Top 40 hits deal with topics like all the B.S. and fake national pride U.S. students are fed in their history classes? And how many times do you hear a song with schizo time signatures and a chorus that goes something like "Take the big man down/Forktie/Chump crown"? It's no "Semi-Charmed Life," after all. Though this sadly ended up being the band's swan song, there really was no way for the band to top themselves. No point in going back to college when you graduated magna cum laude.