Jimmy Eat World went from a two-hit-wonder, riding on the backs of singles “Sweetness,” and “The Middle,” from their 2001 album titled Bleed American, to a band critics raved about when they released their 2004 masterpiece, Futures. The follow up, 2007’s Chase This Light, was less than stellar. It contained too many pop-rock songs and the track order of the album buried its few standout tracks with too much filler. If Futures showed fans anything, it was that the band is at its best when releasing epic tracks like “23,” and “Drugs or Me.” The band returns to this formula with 2010’s Invented, though they still fall short of recapturing Futures‘ greatness.The first standout track is the second song of the album, and also the first single, “My Best Theory.” Beginning with a pulsing guitar riff by lead guitarist Tom Linton, backed by a fast paced drum beat from Zach Lind, it is impossible for any listener to not begin bobbing their head with the music subconsciously. And when the multi-tracked vocals and guitar riffs of the chorus begin, the listener is immediately taken back to the greatness of songs on Futures like “Pain.” After listening to only the first two songs, most fans would immediately call this a vast improvement from Chase This Light.
The next noteworthy track is the fifth, “Movielike.” It begins with a drumbeat sounding equivalent to banging on a trashcan from drummer Lind. This, coupled with the acoustic guitar strumming and singing from front man Jim Adkins, peaks the listeners interest. And when the arena-rock styled chorus comes in, it is impossible for the listener to not imagine being in a packed venue shouting right along with the band. The song is probably the closest the band will come to the arena-rock popularized by stadium-packing bands like U2 and Coldplay.
The following track, “Coffee and Cigarettes,” is chalk full of popular culture musical references, name checking Otis Redding and The Grateful Dead. The structure of the song follows the typical verse-chorus-verse structure and is relatively simple in terms of instrumentation until reaching the solo during the bridge. This isn’t a deterrent, however, as the simplicity leads the track to being one of the band’s most catchy songs. It also features vocals from Courtney Marie Andrews, who appears several times throughout the album.
The eighth track of the album, “Littlething,” features an extremely unique synth line in the background of the song, pulsing the track along. The chorus of the song is very catchy in typical fashion for the band. Adkins lends some of his most impassioned vocal takes from the album to this song and it fits nicely with the music, which comprises of everything you’d expect in modern rock balanced with a string section.
“Action Needs an Audience,” the tenth track, is noteworthy as it is the first track Linton takes lead vocals on in over a decade. The track, the shortest of the album, flies by at an insanely fast pace. Linton’s vocals are noticeably more gruff than the more clean vocals from Adkins. Linton comes off as almost angry, practically yelling his vocals. While fans unfamiliar with the band’s albums before Bleed American might view this as odd, the song is sure to become a fan-favorite with those who have followed the band since their inception.
The final two tracks continue the band’s trend of ending albums with their most noteworthy songs. The first is “Invented,” which at over seven minutes long, is nothing short of epic. It reminds listeners of the closing track of Futures, the fan-favorite “23.” The intro features Adkins singing over acoustic guitar. While the band is comprised of extremely talented musicians who have no trouble playing loud and fast, Adkins’ voice shines most when the instrumentation is minimal. When the song does pick up pace and volume around the five minute mark though, it’s extremely catchy. This song has potential to become a future set-closer and fan favorite.
The album ends with “Mixtape,” which begins with instrumentation sounding similar to Angels & Airwaves, though with more technical talent and less self-indulgence. The percussion features an electronic drum beat and what sounds like maracas. The song features less traditional instruments and more experimentation. While some fans may see it as too different from past work, if this song is any indication of how future albums will sound, they will only continue to get better.
Invented doesn’t quite capture the perfection that Futures does, but it is a vast improvement from the trivial Chase This Light. While the band has always had a vast fan following, this album may push them into the mainstream and continue the critical success from Futures, which is something that hasn’t been done since Bleed American.