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51L1IjAJ6L. SL500 AA300 Listening to JIMMY EAT WORLD takes me back to 2001 every time. I was working in a Sam Goody (R.I.P.) music store, and all the girls swooned for tracks like “The Middle” and “Sweetness.” In fact, the entire BLEED AMERICAN (or self-titled if you got it post 9/11) album was a soundtrack for that summer and Fall

Nine years and three albums later comes INVENTED (out September 28, 2010 via Interscope) an album that finds the band reuniting with producer Mark Trombino, who also helmed  STATIC PREVAILS (1996), CLARITY (1999), and the aforementioned BLEED AMERICAN (2001).

While the past couple of JIMMY EAT WORLD albums were met with acclaim from both fans and critics alike, neither really struck me with the same feelings prompted by the band’s earlier work. INVENTED recaptures the feeling of early JIMMY EAT WORLD, while bringing a few new sonic elements into the mix.

There’s been a real trend of late for bands to release mediocre singles in advance of some great albums, and JIMMY is no exception. “My Best Theory” (released to radio in early August) is an acceptable track, but there’s nothing really stellar about it. mid-tempo, kind of bland – the type of song that goes down easy for much of the general public, the track finds itself tucked in the #2 spot on INVENTED, right behind the excellent opener “Heart is Hard to Find,” a track driven by an acoustic guitar with stomping feet, chimes, and orchestration.

For those that like their guitars a little bit fuzzier and a whole lot louder, JIMMY EAT WORLD deliver on standout numbers like “Coffee and Cigarettes” and “Action Needs an Audience” which almost sounds as if it’s channeling a little bit of BAD RELIGION through the JIMMY EAT WORLD amps. While the “rock” is good, it’s the detailed nuances in the band that make them stand out, much like the piano groove on “Littlethings, and songs like “Higher Devotion,” which finds the band dabbling in a bit of the 80’s-inspired New Wave, with electronic elements brewing just below the surface, not overbearing by any means, but coming off a bit like they got a low-dose shot of Duran Duran along with their morning coffee.

Together, the 12-song set is not so much a cohesive unit as it is a collection of really good songs that will likely be played for a long time to come.

As I issue a rating for INVENTED, I can’t help thinking that either the first 3/4 of 2010 was pretty lukewarm, or the Fall Music Season is shaping up to be exceptionally good…

Rating: 4/5

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