Review Summary: An inconsistent yet well-done rock album compromising the differences between its two predecessors.
With the cult status of 1999’s Clarity
and the mainstream success of 2001’s Bleed American
, Jimmy Eat World were at the top of their popularity when they were releasing their fifth studio album, Futures
. As Bleed American
was quite a standard pop rock album with a couple of massive hit songs but not really anything that made Clarity
such an emo rock classic, Futures
improves upon its predecessor by taking a slight step back in its approach but still recalling why Bleed American
was their breakthrough to the mainstream charts. Even with its pop rock tendencies, Futures
is distinct enough from Bleed American
to make it stand out from the rest of the 00’s American pop rock scene, which is something Bleed American
didn’t quite succeed in.
However, about half of Futures
is comprised of pretty simple rock songs clocking in at under 4 minutes, and albeit being enjoyable, none of which apart from the excellent single “Work” do any effort to reach the level of catchiness of “The Middle” or “Sweetness.” Admittedly, with the exception of the late album sucker “Nothing Wrong,” there are really no bad songs on Futures
, as most of them are catchy enough to enjoy at least on the first listen. The problem is that most of these tracks sound very homogenous and struggle to branch out from even the most basic song structures and chorus melodies. Especially disappointing is the lead single “Pain,” which despite of its chart success doesn’t really hold much replay value, something that is essential for a lead single. In contrast to “Pain,” the second single “Work” is much more successful with the fantastic vocal delivery by Jim Adkins and its anthemic chorus.
When looking at the better side of the album it’s the longer tracks that stand out. Be it the extremely anthemic “The World You Love,” the beautiful ballad “Drugs or Me,” the Clarity
-esque “Night Drive” or the epic closing track “23” it doesn’t demand too many listens to realize that the lengthier tracks on the album just have something
that the rest of it doesn’t. Even though the lyrics of “Drugs or Me” are a bit tacky at points, there is such a huge emotional charge in Adkins’ voice when he sings out the lines “You promised you promised that you’re done / but I can’t tell you from the drugs
,” that it’s simply inevitable to feel at least something. Another big highlight of the album is the closer “23,” which succeeds perfectly in every way. It is a dreamy 7-minute epic about break-up, featuring superb musicianship and more memorability than any of the album’s three singles. “23” is a track showing that the band hasn’t completely forgot what made songs like “Just Watch the Fireworks” such masterpieces, although there hasn’t been too many hints of it on their later albums.
is overall a very well-done rock album, its inconsistency makes it rather frustrating. The album’s standout tracks easily blow everything off Bleed American
out of the water, but on the other hand the poppier tracks simply pale in comparison to their contemporaries on Bleed
is far from the quality of Clarity
, but songs like “23” and “Drugs or Me” make the album sit comfortably among the best records Jimmy Eat World has ever released, and definitely can’t be blamed for the lack of ambition.