There has to be a plaque somewhere in Jimmy Eat World’s recording studio reading “With great power comes great responsibility.” A fitting mantra for more than Peter Parker’s web-slinging morality wars, when you’re one of the most dependable and profoundly influential rock bands on the planet, keeping your ears to the ground and never abandoning your legend is a heck of a responsibility. Harnessing their impeccable creative powers once again, Invented is a melting pot of Jimmy Eat World’s notoriously engaging rock music that showcases ample use of dedication, skill and intelligence over 50 minutes that will burn into your brain (with delight). Fight them off, they come back stronger. You can try to restrain the strength of Jim Adkins’ flawless vocals or even attempt to push the most talented rhythm section in alternative rock out of your way, but it’s no use. Jimmy Eat World has this down to a science and you would be hard-pressed to find this all much ado about nothing.
Mark Trombino’s layered production suits the band well in practically every sense. Taking elements of 1999’s Clarity and 2001’s Bleed American (the two records he previously worked on with the band), Trombino fuses sprinkles of electronic production with melodic structures that contain a darker, rawer nature (much akin to 2004’s Futures). Many fans will try to convince you the band’s last album, Chase This Light, was mismatched and unorganized. The truth of it is, it was the same old band failing to deliver their finest work to date; it merely didn’t capitalize on the inacessible elements about what sets the band apart. Jim Adkins’ new songwriting approach sees a rejuvenated spirit, detailing the throes of scorned females while never relinquishing Adkins’ nuanced narrative voice we’ve come to recognize. “Heart Is Hard to Find” is delicate jubilance and heavy on rhythm; “Evidence” is steady and vibrant, zipping in and out of dark corners like a Futures b-side; “Movielike” is gentler pop that displays how crafty the band is at concocting lush melodies, but not overdoing them.
Take a minute to read over Jim Adkins’ lyrics and you’ll find a blend of vague detail and unusual reflection. While it certainly isn’t melancholy or sad, Invented does admire situations with a candid viewpoint without signaling weakness or pity, something Adkins’ is particularly adept at. The very first words we hear are “I can’t compete with the clear eyes of strangers / I’m more and more replaced / By my friends each night.” Simple, yes – but what makes a basic line like that work is just how easy it is to hear but not say. Then you find gems such as “I watched you put on a dress I’d never seen / Something that begged for East Atlantic breeze,” a lyric that shoots you right between the eyes with visual aplomb. A huge reason as to why Jimmy Eat World succeeds with fans is not based solely on a great hook or even the combined talents of each member – but how much vision they provide listeners, another asset to their insatiable power.
Invented is not necessarily a “show me” album. It leaves more breathing room than previous releases, wiggling its way from softer numbers with bountiful production to darker rock numbers high on adrenaline. First single “My Best Theory” is the distant cousin to “Pain” and soars on a big hook. “Action Needs An Audience,” the first track guitarist Tom Linton sings lead on since “Blister,” is a bit out-of-place but keeps the anti-authority creed of Clarity. “Higher Devotion” could very well be the one track that divides listeners, as it has an unlikely dance-pop feel to it. Getting by on lyrical grace alone, the heavy-handed production curtails it ever so slightly, taking some passion out of the band’s skillset. To hear the other side of layered production that assists the band, “Coffee and Cigarettes” is juggernaut pop rock in the vein of “Sweetness.” Doubling up on all steps of harmony, the contributing female vocals give the songs here a gradual uplift. On “Coffee,” the touch of feminine sound gives the track an essential identity, wherein on “Cut,” the lack thereof allows Adkin’s point of view to sink in with deeper resonance.
The real highlights of the album come during the last two tracks, however, where side by side, they add up to 13 minutes of mental fellatio: that is to say, they blow your mind. The title track and “Mixtape” are gorgeous illustrations of just how talented Jimmy Eat World is: inescapable bass lines swallowed by impactful percussion that are engulfed by storm clouds of dynamic guitar work and melody. This is what you want in a soundtrack; Jimmy Eat World make Sirens come to them. Like a hurricane, a wildfire, a tidal wave… they are a force to be reckoned with that you can’t take your eyes off of. Rather than staring fear in the face, you’re witnessing the orchestration of how big, turbulant things are created. Jimmy Eat World have not just changed the game – they continue to reinvent and redevelop it entirely, each and every time.