Jim Adkins may have the prettiest panty-whisper of all emo frontmen, but Jimmy Eat World has (sort of) outgrown the "emo" tag that few bands are eager to wear on their sleeves. The band's latest offering, Futures, proves that JEW's heart-wrenching power pop actually could improve beyond the brilliance of 2001's Bleed American and that the band probably has a future. Even if much of the record resembles chick rock to you, you'll hardly be able to resist the pull of the heavier tunes. From the stomp and rumble of the title cut to the shout-along-with-us-won't-you of "Pain" and the near-headbanging of "Nothingwrong," JEW has refined its particular brand of heaviness to sparkly-clean perfection.
Or is it the pretty songs you prefer? The generous serving of ballads on Futures won't disappoint, and it's in these that you'll hear the record's most creative production work. If they have any hope at all of moistening crowds in the future, tortured, guitar-wielding pretty boys everywhere would do well to study Adkins' ability to write exactly what the young ladies like to hear. With hushed, breathy lines such as "Kiss me with your cherry lipstick" sung over a snowy background of understated strumming, Adkins could probably get your mom naked. One wishes the band's excursions to Trippytown would last longer, though "Polaris" satisfies cravings for the guitar-in-a-faraway-land sound of U2, the original emo whiners.
If Jimmy Eat World is an emo outfit after all, it's risen to the top of that particular steaming heap. The band's consistent improvement in writing gushing, hooky power pop over the years should make rock fans of all stripes curious enough about JEW's high-energy live show to forget the annoying labels and enjoy an evening of quality, high-gloss rock product.