One of the better-known bands to come out of the area is the alternative rock band, Jimmy Eat World. Hailing from Mesa, Arizona, these former preschool friends came together in 1993 and have since then recorded 7 albums, including their latest entitled Invented. Their music was first classified along the lines of the punk rock and “emo” genres, but has slowly transitioned to a folksier, more alternative sound. The band didn’t really reach any commercial success until their 2001 album Bleed American, which was soon certified platinum and contained 4 singles featured on the Hot Modern Rock Top 20. As they head out on a European tour next month, Jimmy Eat World hopes Invented will bring them continued success with new legions of fans. While I can’t guarantee the success aspect, they have certainly garnered a respectful fan right here.
The album kicks off with “Heart Is Hard To Find,” which has an almost country-feel to it, featuring bare strings and a steady beat. Lead singer Jim Adkins really lets his vocals do most of the work, which brim with earnest yearning and lyrics full of searching and remorse. It’s an interesting but satisfying choice to use as the first song of a record, considering it’s much less upbeat than the rest of the batch. The next tune “My Best Theory” plays like a less-whiny Panic at the Disco! with some dark but incredibly catchy undertones. “Evidence,” has very soft-spoken vocals and interludes of heavy metal-- all of which conjoin perfectly within the last minute or so. “Movielike” returns to the mellow feel of the first song, but is much more upbeat despite the woeful lyrics of how love will never get any better. “Coffee and Cigarettes,” although it doesn’t have the smartest lyrics, is certainly my favorite song on the record. It’s very loud, very catchy, and contains a wonderful cameo by bass guitarist Rachel Haden. Although the song expresses the joy of the simple things in life, I love how Jimmy Eat World pulls out all the stops for this song and does it big. The next two songs, “Stop” and “Littlething” both have impressive instrumentals, particularly in the guitar/bass arena, but can oftentimes sound like the whiny alternative bands I detest so greatly. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with whining about a girl—don’t we all? —but one’s voice doesn’t need to go all shrill and on-the-verge-of-crying when doing so. The next tune, “Cut,” is pretty much the perfect rainy day, sad song. It relies primarily on Adkins’ vocals along with the drums, and quite frankly, has a very epic, gloomy vibe about it. “Action Needs An Audience”…certainly the worst song on the album. Maybe this is what their old punk rock sound was like, but it brings to mind some sad rip-off of Fall Out Boy and Green Day—trying to appear rebellious and angsty, but just…failing. The title track, “Invented,” is a whopping 7 minutes long, and would serve as a great song to fall asleep to (in the nicest way possible.) It has an especially distant, world-weary feel, and is quite nice until the climax when they briefly break out the loud instrumentals. And “Mixtape” is an awesome song to end the record with, playing out almost like a wave—starting out very slow and soft, crescendoing in the middle with soaring vocals, and ending gently just as it started.
So, all in all, I’d say I have mixed feelings about Invented. As with any album—there are songs I really liked, and some I wasn’t really feeling. I definitely admire the band though, and feel they are much better than most alternative rock bands out there. Coming into reviewing this album, I was highly cynical and expecting the usual, whiny excuse for rock produced by all those boy bands at Warped Tour these days. While some of that is still apparent here, Jimmy Eats World exceeded my expectations, producing a solid album that can appeal to a multitude of audiences.