2004’s ‘Futures’ was & still is one of Jimmy Eat World’s most important & most impactful records.
Sometimes a record comes into your life at just the right time, having such an incredibly profound impact that it truly starts to shape you as a person. I vividly remember stepping out from a high school choir competition to hustle down to Real Groovy in Christchurch to purchase ‘Futures‘ (2004) by Jimmy Eat World just so I could listen to it on my Discman on the bus ride home. At the time, I had no idea that ‘Futures would end up being one of the most important records to ever come into my life and that over 15 years later, it would still resonate me just as much, if not more than it did back then.
I had become acquainted with Jimmy Eat World thanks to their monstrous 2001 record, ‘Bleed American‘ (at the time, it was Self-Titled though) and massive songs like the career-defining ‘The Middle’ and ‘Sweetness’ were getting consistent radio and TV play. As a budding guitarist and a young songwriter, I was drawn to the way they blended high-energy riffs with these soaring, captivating vocal hooks I just couldn’t get out of my head. I played my copy of that ‘Bleed American‘ CD to absolute death, and when I knew that ‘Futures‘ was coming out, I wasted no time in getting my hands on it.
From the first listen of ‘Futures,’ I had this immediate connection to the lyrics. It was like somehow Jim Adkins knew exactly how I was feeling and what I was going through as an outcast, nerdy high-school kid who couldn’t talk to girls and who just wanted to fit in. It’s like he was in my head. Then it hit me: he too was probably one of those kids, and I found so much solace in knowing that I wasn’t the only one who went through some stupid existential crisis at 15.
It’s not all about the lyrics however, as ‘Futures‘ is an impeccably written record in so many ways. It almost plays like the perfect mixtape that flows perfectly from start to finish, gifting you everything you need along the way. Tracks like ‘Just Tonight’, ‘Pain’ and ‘Nothing Wrong’ provide enormous riffs and high-octane energy as well as some killer guitar solos. ‘Futures’ and ‘The World You Love’ are both signature anthemic Jimmy Eat World rock bangers, while ‘Kill’, ‘Drugs Or Me’ and ‘Night Drive’ display the bands more subdued side perfectly.
On top of all that aforementioned goodness is three songs that, in my opinion, are some of the most powerful songs that have ever been written. First is ‘Work,’ which speaks to every high school kid yearning to leave their hometown and start their adult life. The music video for this song really reaffirms this idea and only adds to the weight of the song. The simple yet powerful hook (“Can we take a ride? Get out of this place while we still have time”) was cemented in my brain from the very first time I heard it, and Liz Phair’s spectacular harmonies are the perfect compliment to Jim Adkin’s melodies.
‘Polaris’ is hands down one of my favourite songs of all time. It always felt like a traveling musician talking to his partner and trying to mend their relationship but ultimately, he knew that it was well passed the point of repair. The bittersweet chorus hits so hard every damn time I hear it and the final lines in the song always feel like sorrowful acceptance: “When you go, I’ll let you be. But you’re killing everything in me.” Why you gotta make me feel all these emotions, Mr. Adkins!?
The art of the perfect closer is no easy feat and there are so many ways to approach it, but at the end of the day, it has to be momentous. It has to somehow culminate your body of work in one piece and leave the listener with a sense of satisfaction because let’s face it, we all love a good ending. I bring this up because try as I might, I have never found an album closer better than ‘23’, the final track of ‘Futures.’ This seven-minute slow burn is majestic, beautiful and feels like the perfect closing chapter to this record’s well-written book. The delay-drenched guitars interlaced with the immaculately arranged string section are the perfect foundation for Adkin’s vocals and with the huge climax of the song, you can’t help but feel satisfaction at how eloquently the band has resolved the album.
Like I said at the beginning of this piece, sometimes a record comes into your life at the right time and that was definitely the case with ‘Futures.’ Teenage me found so much comfort in these songs at 2004 and I feel like as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found more and more comfort within them. They feel like an old friend that you fall immediately back into place with every time you catch up.
Jimmy Eat World have released so much music over the last few decades and I find it hard to fault anything they’ve released in all honesty, yet ‘Futures‘ will always be the one that changed it all. I will always be grateful to them for ‘Futures,’ for how much it moved me, for how much it has shaped the person I am today.
Jimmy Eat World are performing at Download Festival Australia this month – dates and tickets HERE!