August 10, 2010

Song Review: Jimmy Eat World's "My Best Theory"

Since their 2001 commercial breakthrough, Bleed America, catapulted emo mainstays Jimmy Eat World into the mainstream, it seems the Mesa, AZ hasn't quite figured out which direction and sound works best for them. Bleed American's follow-up, Futures lacked the emo-pop punch of its predecessor in exchange for dark, alternative rock that didn't convince rock purists of its sincerity. 2008's Chase This Light saw the four-piece team up with hit-making producer, Butch Vig, for an album filled with sheen power pop anthems that for whatever reason did not translate into FM pop radio success. Now on their latest effort, Invented, Jimmy Eat World are reuniting with Mark Trombino, the producer behind their classics, Clarity and Bleed American, giving diehard fans hope that a return to their more aggressive emo roots is inevitable. If you're looking for answers as to whether Jim Adkins and company are actually headed there, the first single, "My Best Theory," offers none. Like so many of the heavier songs that make up Jimmy Eat World's back catalog, "My Best Theory" is filled with your usual suspects. From the static-driven guitar riff, the sounds of vocoder echos backing Jim Adkins' voice to the inevitable build up to a dramatic bridge that results in layers of even more Adkins vocals, this single contains a tired and tried formula. To say it's a single as actually quite disconcerting, too, as the chorus isn't the most hook-laden lead track off a new album coming from the Arizona quartet. Meanwhile, Adkins' lyrics sound topically redundant in the grand scheme of Jimmy Eat World's world ("Rush out, out from the center. Not like one side is any better. Stand up as they've been preaching. My best theory is already in me.") Mark Trombino's contribution as producer on "My Best Theory" could have very well made it a deep cut on Clarity, but the music's intense-for-the-sake-of-being-intense emotions scream Futures. If bringing Trombino back into the mix was for the mere purpose to recreate the magic of Jimmy Eat World's past, it doesn't seem to show here. "My Best Theory" displays Jimmy Eat World neither committing to one direction nor another. It's an indifferent single at best that doesn't capitalize on the emo rockers' strengths and struggles to achieve an identity amid everything else the band has already done. Here's hoping the rest of Invented doesn't find Jimmy Eat World in the middle of the ride.

Jimmy Eat World - "My Best Theory"

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