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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Jimmy Eat World – Futures CD review

It’s been three years since Jimmy Eat World released their third and most successful CD to date, Bleed American, which sold 1.3 million records in the U.S. alone. Though nearly half that album had lively, energetic rock songs (some more outright pop than others), the remaining half had the type of slow-building ballads that separate them from the new crop of punk-influenced pop bands.

Their 1999 masterpiece Clarity-one of the best and most overlooked rock records of the last five years-had the perfect mix of rock and slow ballads. On their fourth, and latest CD, Futures, released in October, J.E.W. offers a little Clarity via their trademark introspective and powerful vocals, courtesy of lead singer/guitarist Jim Adkins and heavy vocal contributor and guitarist Tom Linton, as well as layers of ringing guitars. The album closer titled “23” has all of these elements. On every one of their albums, Jimmy Eat World churns out some pure hard rock tracks, and the same holds true for Futures. Tracks such as the album opener, “Just Tonight,” “Nothingwrong,” and the first single, “Pain,” all follow their hard rock roots. The first track on the CD, “Futures,” hits you with a rock sold rhythm and pure energy, as does the heavy rocker “Just Tonight,” which follows. Although “Futures” is all about having a positive attitude about the future, its opening lyrics have a political optimism that wasn’t ultimately realized: “I always believed in futures/I hope for better/in November.” This comes from a band who hails from John McCain country. Having said that, the highlight of “Futures” comes in the middle of the song, where they turn their distortion pedals off for a couple of minutes in favor of a sweet melodic section, propelled by a light acoustic guitar. In fact, that melodic section recalls “Your House,” an outstanding acoustic-based, upbeat ballad from Bleed American. Thus, they give you their hard rock and charming melodic tendencies all on the first song of the album.

Although Futures won’t top a classic like Clarity, or radio-hit record Bleed American, it’s barely a notch below. It’s a CD you can play from start to finish (unless you want to skip to the predominantly heavier tracks) not only because all the songs are good, but for the fact that with the exception of rocker “Nothingwrong,” the album only slows down in tempo towards the end of the CD, where the slow-dance sounding “23” lies (I know what you’re thinking but trust me, it’s not a cheesy tune; it’s actually very compelling as I said earlier and besides, there’s a reason chicks did this band too!). Although Jimmy Eat World did release a few new songs between albums (notably an intense yet slowed-paced version of The Prodigy’s hit “Firestarter”), the band, perhaps knowing all too well that devoted fans would not be satisfied with just 11 new tracks, decided to release two versions of Futures: a plain one and an expanded version. The latter comes with a second CD full of demos of every song, all in the same album order. Both versions have an enhanced CD technology, where you can put it in your computer to get access to mp3s of a few more demos, videos, and rare versions of J.E.W. songs. In the album notes of the expanded version though, two of the band members (Jim and Zach) explain the decisions behind the recordings of the demos and how they differ from the album versions of the same songs. Any TRUE fan would appreciate this kind of insight into a band’s songwriting process. And it also helps that these demos are GOOD. So trust me, you will get more than your money’s worth if you choose to buy the expanded version (at Newbury Comics, of course). (**** stars)