Jimmy Eat World Futures

After the phenomenal breakout success of 2001’s independently recorded Bleed American, fans should be forgiven for getting a little nervous about how the Mesa, Arizona quartet would follow it up. Clearly the pressure was on to record something that would be as commercially successful or even more so. But rather than head to L.A. to record with some mega-producer, the band hunkered down in their home state to record their fifth disc that remains remarkably true to their roots. Futures is JEW as we know and love them. There are the rocking songs ("Futures,” "Nothing Wrong,” "Pain”), the slower, more pensive offerings ("Night Drive”) and the ones that fall right in the middle (no pun intended). But rather than bleeding American again or turning into middle of the road latter-day Goo Goo Dolls or Matchbox 20 clones, the band returns to their diverse Static Prevails and Clarity-era sound where the straight ahead emo-pop is tempered with moody indulgences. Most of the record is not immediately catchy but on repeated listens is quite infectious. And the fact that the band didn’t let this record become a marketing wet-dream for their record label speaks volumes about their integrity. (Dreamworks)