Jimmy Eat World – Futures (2004)

FuturesFew songs can ever encapsulate a moment. Sure, live performances can easily imprint a set list of memories, but in trying to remember an individual listening of a song just short of a decade later, particularly if it wasn't the first time you heard it, that’s quite a rarity. One was during my third listen through of Futures, the fifth album by the spirit animal of my teenage years, Jimmy Eat World. I’m on a train from London to my nowhere of the world, a friend is passed out (I’m dramatizing, he’s just snoozing) next to me, and “The World You Love” plays. Suddenly every lyric has relevance; and a time-free barrier is cemented around that journey, which, by all accounts, was most mundane. I see it as no accident; rather the song and whole record remain deliberately in tune with my Universe.

Certainly part of that lies in how slickly produced it is, which is lucky, given that it lost the man who had help bring to life the band’s finest outing, even still, Bleed American. Their longtime music man Mark Trombino got separated from the project in its early stages, when the Arizona four realised it was too early. The replacement, Gil Norton has worked with too many names to mention, but standouts include every Pixies album starting with Doolittle, two Foo Fighters albums and Feeder’s Comfort in Sound. His ability to focus on what needs focusing; the right tones of Jim Adkins voice, the vocal harmonies and the blending of the loud noises, it creates what is, even if not the best Jimmy Eat World album, the most Jimmy Eat World album.

It’s slightly odd then that the track “Pain” is both a really great introduction to the band, and yet not an honest representation. It still picks up higher shrills than the rest of their catalogue at live gigs, bar “The Middle”, but it paints the wrong impression. It’s darker in tone than much else they’ve written: for starters, it’s a song about some sort of drug (actually, a few of their songs are) or perhaps an elusive girl (lot of those too). To me it suggests they’re a band that sings only about the miscreants, when in fact they’re more about the misfits. They’re about travellers who revel in finding the right place. Without scoring a high to go somewhere, they simply find some along the way, whether that’s through pills or people.

The title track is a far better encapsulation. It celebrates the ostensibly good times, but looks forward to a day that’s care free in a much larger sense. Same with “23”, who’s title alone will soon bear heavily on this writer. It’s possibly their most relatable song, mainly because its ambiguity allows it to stick with whatever your personal circumstances are. Got a case of the getting old going on? A bit of unrequited love? Purposelessness blues? Then it is seven minutes of optimism that won’t need specific rhythmic elements to help cure your ailments, just a pure unadulterated confession that none of us are yet fully adult.

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