Having been through the major-label machine more than once, the idea of resting on laurels must foreign to Jimmy Eat World. The band’s 2001 release, Bleed American, garnered them mainstream attention, and it almost makes sense that on their fourth album, Futures, Jimmy Eat World would kick back and make an album that is neither a departure nor an improvement on their previous output. For the most part, Futures blends into the modern-rock woodwork.
The title track, which begins the album, is the first indication of the new, streamlined Jimmy Eat World. The music may be a little darker than that of Bleed American, but it’s definitely intended for the masses. The band worked with producer Gil Norton, and he polished any remaining grit right off. The music isn’t bad, but it’s not long before my mind starts to wander.
At least the leadoff single, “Pain,” has some of the spark that once made the band interesting. It’s a dark, tough rocker, one that the band wasn’t able to slip onto the airwaves in the past. The feelings inspired by “Pain” should have been spread throughout the album, not highlight it. Check “Kill” and “Polaris,” too.
It’s easy to apply the “they worked hard, they deserve it” rule to Jimmy Eat World, but they became certifiable stars after Bleed American spawned a number of hits. They were in a position to offer up more challenging music to the mainstream. Futures is nothing more than a dime-a-dozen modern rock album, with only a few bursts of creativity to keep it from falling in line with other releases from their new peers.