On Tuesday (September 28), [artist id="261"]Jimmy Eat World[/artist] return with Invented, their first album in nearly three years and the first since they rather rightfully assumed their position as figureheads of angsty, punk-influenced (don’t call it “emo”) rock.
Whether this happened thanks to the success of their Clarity x 10 Tour, held in honor of the 10th anniversary of their criminally underappreciated 1999 album, or the continued championing of their catalog by acts like Paramore, or even the simple fact that — unlike similar bands like the Promise Ring and Jets to Brazil — Jimmy Eat World are still churning out albums, there’s no denying that the band’s status has been upped significantly in recent years. Though, it might not surprise you to know that Jimmy Eat World don’t necessarily agree with this assessment.
“I mean, I suppose in ‘rock-star years,’ we’ve sort of become figureheads,” frontman Jim Adkins laughed. “It’s flattering when other musicians take the time to acknowledge you and say they respect your work. I’m flattered by that. [Paramore's] Hayley [Williams] is a sweet girl, and it’s a big compliment.”
So rather than rest on those (supposed) laurels, Adkins decided to shake up the very foundation of Jimmy Eat World when it came time to write Invented. Rather than proceed in the same manner he had been for nearly two decades, he took a brand-new approach to penning songs this time around: the oft-dreaded “writing exercise,” inspired by the work of photographers Hannah Starkey and Cindy Sherman.
“I started flipping through their photography books, and the work I was going through was based on one central figure or maybe a small group. It’s composed things, there’s a cinematic look to it, there’s a scene, but nothing is explained for you,” Adkins said. “So what I would do was take a little bit of time and kind of just free-write about any aspect that came to mind about it. You know, like, who these people are, what decisions they might be making in that moment, who are the people they might be looking at off camera.
“The idea wasn’t to get material for Jimmy Eat World songs, it was just to get your brain working,” he continued. “But then, as we would go on and work on our own material, some of the more interesting ideas from those sessions started creeping in to those songs, and after a while, there was enough of those ideas that became songs that the rest of the band was really liking, and that kind of became the majority of the record.”
And teeming with that same sense of exploration, Invented is the band’s best album in nearly a decade (since their breakout Bleed American, for sure). It’s by turns raucous and ringing (first single “My Best Theory”), mellow and centered (“Heart Is Hard to Find”) and even spacious and soaring (album-closer “Mixtape”), the product of a reinvigorated band that’s not quite willing to accept the whole “figurehead” thing just yet. Truth be told, right now, Jimmy Eat World would settle for just being another band. And this record is proof of that.
“I think the record … it’s kind of all over the place. Our roots are in guitar-based rock, and the fun guitar riffs to play, [they're] exciting to play. … There’s also really, really mellow things on the record; it’s kind of up and down,” Adkins said. “In writing and recording, we don’t censor ourselves when we’re coming up with new ideas; it’s always just about fleshing out an idea to as far as we can take it. And then, later on, when it comes time for us to decide which tunes are going to be an album, it’s always based on ‘What do we feel are the strongest songs?’ … It can be anything, as long as we feel like it’s a good song.”
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