Jimmy Eat World’s new album, “Futures” (Interscope) finds the band returning to a musical landscape far different than the one it faced before it broke through with “Bleed American” (DreamWorks) in 2001. It’s fitting, then, that the new songs sprinkled through the show were a response to success, but not in the angry way fans could expect. Instead, Jimmy Eat World has discovered pop, and though the slow, deliberate melodies of its new material at times seemed out of place against the band’s early work, the songs redeem themselves with memorable hooks and engaging themes.
Those themes occasionally veer into corny territory: “The World You Love” is a heartbreak song with the lyrics “I feel safe/I’m gonna call this home.” It’s not exactly pushing any barriers, but for the teenage fans singing along in the front, singer Jim Adkins feels their pain.
That fan connection is important for any of punk rock’s offshoots — but it also could be their eventual downfall. “All of that was a Jimmy Eat World cover band,” Adkins said three-quarters of the way through the sold-out concert. “Now we’re going to start playing the real show.” With that, the band tore into “The Middle,” bouncing through its galloping chorus. But, only a few years after it hit, the song already sounds a bit dated, and the band plays it almost as a throwaway.
That’s not true for the two most promising songs from “Futures,” the politically charged title track and the current single “Pain.” Both of them have the angsty guitar roar that garnered Jimmy Eat World an early cult audience, coupled with grown-up melodies that helped propel the band toward being a mainstream hitmaker.
If either of those tunes catches on the way “The Middle” did, Jimmy Eat World’s days as a one-hit-wonder could — and should — come to a screeching halt.