Even if the thought of Jimmy Eat World's hit "The Middle" elicits primal screaming and a flip of the radio dial, the band's latest album offers more straight-to-radio appeal.
With its 2001 release, Bleed American, the band garnered success via "The Middle" -- but the catchy ditty isn't congruent with the rest of the band's efforts. This fact is evident on the band's latest album, Futures.
The album opens with the title track, ushering in the group's power-punk force with a vengeance. Blasting harmonies punch through the driving guitar and drums, evoking the image of a horde of teens jumping in unison at a mid-'90s concert.
The image seems appropriate for a band that, 10 years into its career, has fused the riffs of comrades such as Sum 41 with the angst-ridden lyrics of the older generation of grunge rockers.
The fusion is evident on the title track, as the lyrics reflect the struggle between the present and the future: "I always could count on futures/ That things will look up/ And they look up/ Why is it so hard to find balance?"
"Just Tonight" follows suit, offering a little grunge and a little punk before the radio-friendly "Work" takes the album more to "The Middle." But the song isn't a downgrade in quality, as its strong and scattered vocals fit well with the power-ballad backdrop.
The lyrics are poignant, if not borderline sappy, and unfortunately seem fit for some WB channel commercial at times with: "All I can say I couldn't say/ Can we take a ride?/ Get out of this place while we still have time."
Taking the lead of "Work," the album moves into softer, poppier songs. The tunes become homogenous, differentiated only by the range of introspective, downtrodden lyrics placed over the sporadic clash of instruments.
Finally, after seven ambient tracks, the band places the drums at the forefront again for the grittier "Nothingwrong." But as soon as the song begins, it segues back into the repetition of the lighter songs, complete with disillusioned lyrics.
In fact, the lyrics ironically sum up the album with: "We've done nothing wrong/ But we've done nothing."
Maybe the band's lackadaisical attitude makes it appropriate that "Work" might follow "The Middle," since it isn't willing to crank out anything more than a jam for commercials aimed at teens.
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