Some bands have big feet. They leave footprints in the rock world that other bands must follow. The Beatles are the most obvious example, but there are hundreds of others. It has nothing to do with popularity or money or how cute the singer is; it's all about the shoe size.
I really like Jimmy Eat World, but they don't have big feet.
Futures isn't really any different than any other Jimmy Eat World album. They alternate joyous celebrations of life with navel-gazing songs about being lost and alone, and they do it in a way that makes you want to tap your foot and sing along. With the possible (and ironic) exception of "Nothingwrong," there's nothing wrong with these songs. Unfortunately, they don't inspire me the way the band's last few CDs did.
"Drugs Or Me" walks a fine line between heartfelt sentiment and melodramatic cheese. The arpeggiated chords and whimpering vocals come dangerously close to some horrible anti-drug tragedy from the mid-1990s. The demo of "Drugs or Me" (the version of Futures at the EPFL contains a second disc with demo recordings) has a more haunting production and arrangement, and it's one of the few demos that sounds better than the final product.
The only time the band stretches out and gives a song room to breathe is on the closer, "23." At times, it is reminiscent of both U2 and The Cure, but in a way that makes me want to listen to more Jimmy Eat World instead of taking out the CD and putting in something else.
Everyone can play their instruments, and nobody lets their ego overshadow the strength of subtlety. The songs are good, and if they weren't following Bleed American and Clarity, I'd probably be heaping praise upon them. The lyrics sometimes work, but are often just words.
Packaging: (Altered by EPFL?)
The version I checked out doesn't have the phone booth on the cover, which is a shame because that's a good image. This design isn't terrible, but it's not special. In the liner notes for the demos, they kindly wrote a bit about each song, how it evolved, and how it's different than the final version.
Listen if you like: Jimmy Eat World, because it's not much different than what you've already heard. Also, Sunny Day Real Estate, Foo Fighters, emo without the screamo.
If it were food, it'd be: Beans and rice. It tastes good and you can live on it for a long time, but after a while it just doesn't inspire you anymore.