With “Invented,” their seventh studio effort in 17 years, rock band Jimmy Eat World has chosen a more relaxed, ambient feel for most of their songs this time around.
By sparingly and strategically using heavier guitar melodies, they are still able to inject that level of energy their previous albums have been known for, while still being true to their new sound. For example, on the third track “Evidence,” Jimmy Eat World separates the song into clear verses that contain minimal musical elements, and into the more energetic choruses which contain much of what we would normally expect from Jimmy Eat World.
That being said, at times it feels as though the energy is forced, with songs such as “Action Needs An Audience” and “Coffee and Cigarettes.” For the most part, these songs are forgettable and feel more like filler than anything else. Their lyrics on these songs feel unmotivated and thrown together, which drags down an otherwise solidly lyrical album.
Tracks like “Stop” feature an unnamed female vocalist, which provides a refreshing shift of vocal styles that create a sort of natural dialogue between Jim Adkins (lead singer and guitarist) and the female vocalist that is reminiscent of many emotionally-driven songs on today’s radio airwaves. These elements are well-executed and flow well within the song, and only make the songs stronger and more passionate.
There are a few cases where we see the band draw upon influences from other popular bands of today. Fans of MGMT will enjoy “Higher Devotion,” where Adkins isn’t afraid to make use of a little falsetto in the chorus and elsewhere on the track. In fact, Jimmy Eat World shows on this album that they aren’t afraid to try something new (they have, after all, been doing this for almost two decades). They also show that they can succeed at it, despite a few out-of-place songs that can be overlooked.
One of the few places this album falls short is in its consistency. With a slew of slower tracks featuring the implementation of acoustic guitars mixed with bells and minimal drums, they are broken up by the aforementioned songs that make it appear as though Jimmy Eat World is perhaps trying too hard to hold onto their old style by a thread. My suggestion: cut the cord, and work with where you’re heading, Jimmy Eat World. Change is good, as long as the change is genuinely good. And by the sound of it, the step in the right direction for this band is within this change.
For someone a little more interested in something they can dance along to, I would suggest looking elsewhere. While the album does include tracks like “My Best Theory” that have a bit of a dance feel, most of the songs have that uplifting, contemplative quality that will either hit or miss depending on the audience. For those wanting a more emotionally driven album with lyrical depth, this record shouldn’t disappoint.
Where Jimmy Eat World succeeds most on this album is the variety their songs provide to the listener. Every song has more or less one distinctive quality that makes it unique. Whether it’s the piano and orchestra-driven melodies of “Littlething” or the anticipation of the first track “Heart Is Hard to Find” before the catchy guitar hooks of “My Best Theory,” this album is definitely worth a listen even for those who feel skeptical about a slight shift in sound from an old favorite. We can’t expect bands to stay the same forever, and Jimmy Eat World is no different. Embrace the new, remember the old, and enjoy the music.