In 1994, the punk rock trio Jawbreaker put out their third record titled 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, an album that marked a huge milestone in their career. Jawbreaker consists of lead singer and guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach, bassist and backing vocalist Chris Bauermeister, and drummer Adam Pfahler, and has only recently reunited after nearly 10 years. By the time the group had reached the recording of their penultimate album, they had released Bivouac two years before, had toured with Nirvana, and were gaining recognition within the punk music scene as well as in the eyes of major record labels as a result of the major successes of Green Day’s Dookie. Looking back at this release, 24 is a record that is well-appreciated in the punk rock community for its ability to connect with the scene at the time and it has had a clear influence in the pop-punk subgenres that were brought to mainstream attention in the years following its release.Jawbreaker’s influence on the direction of pop-punk is primarily evident in the record’s second track titled “Indictment.” Here, Schwarzenbach’s breathy vocals are present in the forefront of the song, and the repetitive nature of the bassline, bouncing beat, and almost ridiculously self-aware lyrics about writing a catchy song establish this tune as one that ironically (or perhaps not so ironically) stick around long after the 3-minute track ends. As Schwarzenbach asks, “I’d like to know what’s so wrong with a stupid, happy song?”Perhaps one of the most notable tracks on the album, “Boxcar” becomes even more self-aware as Schwarzenbach expresses the various arguments against Jawbreaker being defined as a punk band and the track itself was a huge dig at punk purists. In the first lines of the song, he sings: “You’re not a punk and I’m telling everyone / Save your breath, I never was one,” and later goes on in the chorus: “I’m coloring outside your guidelines…one, two, three, four / Who’s punk? What’s the score?” As if needing more irony, “Boxcar” came full circle when the group signed a million dollar deal to the major label DCG Records after their Nirvana tour, which of course was viewed as selling out and cost the band a good amount of respect from their fans. Naturally, this all came at a time when “selling out” was becoming a very lucrative solution for a band, but for a punk-inclined group such as Jawbreaker, it wasn’t acceptable to do so.24 visits subjects that are frequently covered in subsequent emo and even pop punk bands almost to the point of exhaustion: love, loss, and loneliness. In tracks such as “Condition Oakland,” ” Ache,” and “In Sadding Around,” themes of depression, disappointment, irrefutable heartbreak, and emotional distress refuse to be overlooked. Lyrics that make you feel something are what it’s all about here, and Jawbreaker certainly makes you feel something. Schwarzenbach puts it rather nonchalantly in “Condition Oakland”: “This is my condition: Desperate, alone, without an excuse / I try to explain / Christ, what’s the use?” What’s even more powerful than these lyrics is the interlude: a sample of Jack Kerouac’s reading of his poem “October in the Railroad Earth.” The effect of the spoken word is only heightened by the subdued guitar riffs that seem to dissipate as Kerouac’s voice struggles to break through their looming presence. While this is perhaps the most effective and emotional track on the album, “Ache” deserves an honorable mention as the electric guitar sounds clutter the track with loose strumming and Schwarzenbach’s vocalization feels as though we’re intruding on a private a conversation with himself.Schwarzenbach’s lyricism is clearly a major drawing point to the album and the band’s attractiveness as a whole, and the subtle but constantly present clues he offers about his life add even more value for listeners to an already solid album. In some cases, the singer delivers lyrics that are meant to be examined beyond face value. One such instance occurs with the opening track “The Boat Dreams from the Hill,” as it introduces the album with a somewhat misleading sense of enthusiasm. A true pop-punk song with ebullient drumming and quickly strummed guitar chords, Schwarzenbach’s vocals are tucked beneath this wall of sound so that the true lyrics and their meaning are harder to identify. The song talks about a personified “boat on a hill, never going to sea.” As the catchy lyrics inform, “I wanna be a boat / I wanna learn to swim / Then I’ll learn to float / Then begin again,” likening the narrator’s wish to realize his abilities and start over to a boat trapped on a hill that can never realize its potential or fulfil its purpose. In other instances, tracks recount experiences or reference actual events in Schwarzenbach’s own life (“Out Patient”, “West Bay Invitational,”), which might not be particularly compelling when described by themselves, but the style of narration, as well as the accompaniment, make for effective storytelling and a more personal connection to the singer’s life. Take, for example, the fourth track, “Outpatient,” which recounts the singer’s experience in the hospital after getting throat surgery. The lagging instrumentation and disorienting recurring change of narration (“This is Jennings, your anesthetist”) add to the confusion and the comparably slow-moving pace of the track. While the subject of the song might not be particularly interesting, the delivery certainly is and any regular listeners might have drawn the connection to the singer’s personal health issues, giving the song a more personal feeling. Schwarzenbach’s inarticulate drawl is sometimes lost among the rolling basslines and energetic power chords of the record, and one might argue that the imbalanced lyrical flow of tracks such as in “Jinx Removing” and “Ashtray Monument” can be unsettling to an ear accustomed to formulaic lyrical structure, but these qualities only contributes to the overall gruff sound of the record and the band’s punk persona. Bauermeister and Blake’s soundtrack create the perfect musical adaptation of the rawness and the emotional power that Schwarzenbach’s scratchy voice holds, making 24 an album that really resonates with its listeners.Commonly lauded as the turning point for this punk rock trio, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is so much more than a representation of just the gritty punk aesthetic: it’s the prerequisite to the pop-punk and emo genres that dominated rock music in the early 2000s. Comparing tracks on this album to more modern bands that have dominated rock music, like pop-punk outfit Fall Out Boy, and the emo-defining group My Chemical Romance, the connections are clear in terms of sound and lyrical emotion, and it really is no wonder why Jawbreaker still stands as a highly influential group in contemporary punk history.