Jimmy Eat World hasn’t had much luck with major labels. After Capitol Records refused to release their third album, the band signed with DreamWorks, who released their independently-financed breakthrough, Bleed American, before being absorbed by Universal. Now the band’s follow-up, Futures, finally sees the light of day via Interscope Records. The album begins promisingly enough with the pathologically optimistic title track (“The past is told by those who win…Believe your voice can mean something”) and, for a band who changed the title of their last album out of political correctness in the wake of 9/11, they manage to sneak in a sly dig at the incumbent president (“I hope for better/In November”) and make a case that “now’s the time to disagree.” Things quickly move into typical emo irrelevance after that, though they do make an attempt at some sort of generic dissent on “Nothingwrong,” which is, sadly, the hardest track on the album. The rest of Futures is filled with radio-ready pop songs that are so slick and overproduced that the personality is virtually polished right off. There are a few shining moments (“Just Tonight…,” “Work,” featuring former Capitol label-mate Liz Phair, and the sugary-sweet “Night Drive”), but nothing comes close to Bleed American’s stellar trio of distinctive hits, which included “The Middle” and “Sweetness.” “Pain” makes for a spunky lead single, but the pleasant yet forgettable Futures is ultimately not very forward-thinking.
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