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Jimmy Eat World - Invented (Cover Artwork)

Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World: InventedInvented (2010)
Interscope

Reviewer Rating: 2.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: BryneBryne
(others by this writer | submit your own)

After what seemed to be a brief flirtation with independence and label autonomy, Jimmy Eat World returned to Interscope for their seventh studio album, Invented. While the idea of such a beloved, influential group eschewing the machine is exciting and romantic, it's easy to forget that JEW have been.
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After what seemed to be a brief flirtation with independence and label autonomy, Jimmy Eat World returned to Interscope for their seventh studio album, Invented. While the idea of such a beloved, influential group eschewing the machine is exciting and romantic, it's easy to forget that JEW have been a major-label band for essentially their entire career, outside of their long out-of-print 1994 debut and a couple of splits and EPs here and there.

And if you think you've heard this story before, you're right; the band first experienced major label exile after the commercial failure of 1999's Clarity, which in turn resulted in a self-financed followup in the form of Bleed American, which what would actually be their breakthrough that Capitol had been looking for two years prior. At any rate, it's presumed that Invented was recorded under similar circumstances; without the pressure of a major label, the guys would be free to really express themselves and create something that hopefully sounded fresh and familiar all at the same time, something that would win back devoted fans feeling a bit disenfranchised after 2007's Butch Vig-produced Chase This Light portrayed the band as too slick and not nearly vulnerable enough. That last line is prudent here, because despite Mark Trombino's return to the fold as producer, Invented is almost too vulnerable, not to mention wildly inconsistent and only occasionally interesting.

"My Best Theory" was a questionable choice for a first single to be sure; the song relies heavily on canned guitar harmonics and Jim Adkins's vocals to evoke emotion, and while in theory these are positive attributes, in practice they come off as a bit too hollow. Without that extra crunch, be it from fuzzy guitar riffs or pounding drums, the finished product sounds, well, unfinished. A better choice may have been "Movielike" or even "Coffee and Cigarettes," both of which contain simple yet effective choruses that are far more memorable than anything in "Theory" and represent the band's aesthetic far more accurately, even if the synthy crap in "Cigarettes" may have been a poor decision.

We're reviewing an album here, though, not potential singles, so let's get down to why Invented doesn't work: It's largely a collection of slow, meandering pop that, unlike the band's previous albums, isn't effectively interspersed with more abrasive material. Jimmy Eat World have always been proficient at cohesively mixing dreamy emo landscapes and flat-out rockers on their records; "Blister" wouldn't have hit nearly as hard if it hadn't been preceded on Clarity by "For Me This Is Heaven." Same goes for "Sweetness" and "Hear You Me" on Bleed American, as well as the Futures combination of "Pain" and "Drugs or Me"...etc. You get the idea. Without that yin and yang in place, Invented crawls along pretty slowly, and the moments here where the band give actual rock music the old college try--the Tom Linton-fronted "Action Needs an Audience" springs to mind, which is really just a disappointingly inferior rewrite of "Your New Aesthetic"--come off as slapdash and silly.

More missteps include the industrial guitar overtones on "Higher Devotion," a song that other than the vocals, vaguely resembles something Linkin Park would write, as well as the acoustic guitar, handclaps and strings that make "Heart Is Hard to Find" a track that would've worked far better as a closer than an opener. "Stop," "Littlething" and "Cut" open up the album's second half, and while "Stop" is a prime example of Jimmy Eat World's ability to craft an interesting, heartfelt ballad, the two songs that follow it seem like a wet blanket in comparison and meander so much it's difficult to keep paying attention to what's happening.

Perhaps what makes all these miscues even more disappointing and angering is that Invented does contain three legitimately great songs, songs that are on par with the band's best. "Evidence" is a flawless balance of heartfelt, vulnerable vocal melodies and a crunchy, guitar-heavy chorus for which the buildup is excellent. The album also closes with two positively epic tracks in "Invented" and "Mixtape," with the title track resting on a foundation of quiet, largely acoustic instrumentation and heartfelt, subdued vocals from Adkins previously unheard on Invented before climaxing into an anthemic, crunchy payoff near the five-minute mark and then coming back down to earth for its final 90 seconds or so. The manner in which the song is constructed is bound to make it a live favorite for years to come. On the other hand, "Mixtape" is the sort of vaguely electronic, howling closer we've come to expect from Jimmy Eat World, and while it's no "Goodbye Sky Harbor" or "23," it's impressive just the same, if only because of the vocal performance from Adkins that combines vulnerability and confidence into the oft-repeated lyric "You don't get to walk away, walk away now / It's too late late, you can't walk away, walk away now" in a manner that only he seems capable of dictating.

Invented will turn a lot of heads for the wrong reasons and flatly, it's going to disappoint a lot of people clamoring for the "next great Jimmy Eat World album." The band has a passionate, loyal fanbase (of which this writer is a proud member, despite what was written above) which will likely only be marginally effected by this transgression, and choose to keep and replay the great songs, delete the poor songs from their hard drives and wait patiently for the band's next move. Hopefully it's a little more calculated than this one.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Jimmy Eat World - ClarityAlkaline Trio - Maybe I'll Catch FireThe Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home AboutThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundBrand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeJimmy Eat World - Chase This LightAlkaline Trio - DamnesiaAlkaline Trio - This AddictionAlkaline Trio - Alkaline TrioAgainst Me! - White Crosses

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
damnitsderek (October 1, 2010)

Eh, it's sort of "meh".

Granted i've only given it one listen: it wasn't a bad record, just sort of forgettable.

Also, Futures is underrated.


This.

Three songs in and I'm bored as hell. It's not bad, but there's no replay value so far.

keithybobeefy (September 28, 2010)

Two best songs of 2010?

Jimmy Eat World's Invented and Gaslight Anthem's We Did It When We Were Young.

Just saying.

greg0rb (September 28, 2010)

Man Bryne, that was as long as one of my reviews! Well done though. JEW, sounds like, not so much.

stifffinger (September 28, 2010)

10 for evoking Linkin Park.

jacknife737 (September 28, 2010)

Eh, it's sort of "meh".

Granted i've only given it one listen: it wasn't a bad record, just sort of forgettable.

Also, Futures is underrated.

conebone69 (September 28, 2010)

In some ways I think "the middle" killed these guys.

They seem determined to be the official soundtrack of OneTree Hill.

accidentprone88 (September 28, 2010)

Basically what I expected. I thought Chase This Light was better than most people seemed to, but it still felt like they were running on fumes.

Also, Drugs or Me could be one of the worst songs ever, Jimmy Eat World or otherwise.

Wesley_Snipes (September 28, 2010)

Scott and Tim: â??Action Needs an AUDIENCEâ?ť

ricomedy (September 28, 2010)

I actually liked Chase This Light quite a bit but this record does nothing for me.

'Invented' is an amazing song though. As good as anything they've recorded.

drunkwithpower (September 28, 2010)

too many ballads, even Coldplay rocks harder than this band now

oldpunkerforever (September 28, 2010)

wow, this is terrible, what happened to these guys-oldpunker-

danperrone (September 28, 2010)

really terrible album. it's like mark trombino said "guys, i know we made a great album in the 90's, but this wussy alternative rock you guys make now is really good too!!"

ericaisawesome (September 28, 2010)

Can't wait to get this. I still don't know why I didn't pre-order it.

insinceredave (September 28, 2010)

Fair review, I agree with the sequencing on the record, the first half is not a patch on the second half. That said it can't be ignored that 'invented' is possibly one of the best tracks they've ever recored. I'd put it above Chase This Light and overall if you give it time its a good record, but you've got to listen to it several time before you say 'this is'nt bad at all'. The last track harbours back to the track 'Roller Queen' on the EP they did before Clarity came out.

wearestillalive (September 28, 2010)

literally scared to listen.

Deadpan (September 28, 2010)

Yeah, I can't really disagree with this review. I still really like this record, but I can't help but feel it's more because I'm a ridiculously huge fan of this band than anything else.

It bugs me that songs like My Best Theory and Higher Devotion seem to be tailor made for those scenes when someone's doing something morally questionable/supposedly sexy in Smallville, but overall I enjoy pretty much all the songs, if just for the nice use of acoustic guitars in a bunch of them.

Weird vocal production aside, I really like Coffee and Cigarettes because it sounds like it could be off Bleed American or the split with Jebediah - same with Evidence. And I've had the chorus for Movielike stuck in my head for a solid week.

What surprises me about this album is how glossy it sounds. Sounds way more Butch Vig than Mark Trombino.

Anarchypants (September 28, 2010)

This is a great album.

keithybobeefy (September 28, 2010)

Nothing this band does will ever disapoint me. This is no exception.

colin (September 28, 2010)

this is a pretty bad record. i still really dig chase this light, but on this one, the missteps are all lyrical. the whole songs about teenager's diaries that are based on photos, i just can't vibe with. there's a handful of good songs here, a solid EP's worth, maybe. but the lyrics, ack.

timorous_me (September 28, 2010)

I hope they don't drop "Blister" for "Action Needs An Ambulance" in their live sets (every time I see them Tom only gets one song). I'm actually really disappointed in this. Chase This Light wasn't great, but I loved about a third of the songs by my second or third listen. This just isn't growing on me at all. Maybe my hopes were just too high when I found out they were working with Trombino again.

hayman (September 28, 2010)

2nd rate at best.

mikexdude (September 28, 2010)

As long as this band tours and plays "Blister" and "Praise Chorus" live, I don't really care what they do.

maverick (September 28, 2010)

I don't hear the "Your New Aesthetic" comparison with "Action Needs An Ambulance," but much else of what you wrote is spot-on (even though I'd give this 3 to 3.5 stars instead of your 2.5). The whole first half of the record is just bland radio rock; "Evidence" barely makes the cut because of the nice riffage at the end, but the rest of the song drags. I also saw them play it live over the weekend and it just isn't there.

However, I think the second half of the record is pretty consistently great, minus "Cut," which is just okay. But "Stop" is the best ballad the band's written in a long time, "Littlething" is perfect for those wanting another Futures, and the last two tracks, as you noted, are just top-notch in terms of songwriting and structure. The way the title track builds and builds before absolutely exploding is incredibleâ??even though you know it's coming, it still an invigorating listen.

It's better than Chase This Light, but that's as far up the chart it goes in terms of ranking JEW albums.

-Scott

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