Tracks (Runtime): 12 (51:05)
Longest Track: “Invented” (7:07)
Geometry of an album cover: 1st. Slightly off-center, with dramatic juxtaposition of light, it’s rather beautiful. Plus, it’s the kind of image that inspired the stories spun on the record: is this the end of her shift or the end of her job? What sort of woman is this? And what the heck is up with the nutcracker/pirate lamp thing above her head?
JEWish-ness: Simply presenting the song titles “Heart is Hard to Find”, “Stop”, and “Cut” could make the case, but here are some samplings, in order of the noted songs: “All the f*cked up things you say/ Couldn’t possibly be/ Any less help to me”; “You wanna hurt me baby?/ Stop ’cause you have”; “I know there’s no depth/ You wouldn’t sink for the chance/ I’m sorry, boy/ I’m not cut for this no more.”
Lots of small ideas: A trifecta of specific references in “Coffee and Cigarettes”. Well, maybe. Can’t find official evidence that the song title refers to Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film, but the other two references are no-doubters: “A thousand dollars I had saved/ And my sister’s two cassettes/ The Dead from Fillmore East/ And Otis Redding’s Greatest Hits”.
Wait, which refrain do I sing? “Heart is Hard to Find” – “It’s hard to find the heart sometimes/ Hard” vs. those “lala lala”s vs. the “ah ah ah”s vs. all that clapping.
Tom Eats World, Too! Holy moly! Linton returns to lead vocals for the first time since Clarity’s “Blister” with “Action Needs an Audience”. Yes, it’s the worst song on the album, but an event for Jimmy-fans, nonetheless.
Best Penultimate / Closing Tracks on a JEW record: Blasphemous? Maybe. But the one-two punch of “Invented” and “Mixtape”, which happen to be the two longest songs on the record, are glorious. The former is stripped-down with Adkins practically whispering through most of the song about (of course) a girl he can’t forget; the latter has a repeating, simple drum beat and piano, with Adkins’ wailing throughout (“You don’t get to walk away/ Walk Away/ Now”). Either could work as a closer, but putting them together near album’s end was a ballsy move that paid off.
Haden-istic: After playing the secret weapon on Bleed American, Rachel Haden returns ever-so-briefly on “Stop”. The majority of the female vocals on Invented are provided by the young Courtney Marie Andrews, who hails from the band’s home state of Arizona.
Oh hai, Mark! Trombino’s back! And not a moment too soon, ‘cause that last album… woof.
Jimmy Says Words about how looking at pictures came to influence the songwriting on Invented: “How that started was just purely a writing exercise before I realized I had so much material, that could be a theme for it. I would just kind of look through Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills series or Hannah Starkey’s untitled prints and just take 10 or 15 minutes to write everything I could think of about that scene—who that person is, who she’s looking at off-camera, where does she come from—everything I could think of to flesh out who that character was and what was happening. I just found that more interesting ideas from the sessions started working their way into songs I was working on. Most of the material on Invented is one photograph equals one song.”
Verdict: A solid effort that blows Chase This Light out of the water. While not attaining the highs of Futures, it may be more consistent than that fine effort. It isn’t likely the band will reproduce the successes of either Clarity or Bleed American, but producer Mark Trombino’s return behind the scenes reignited the band, bringing forth some of their best music. There’s even a dance tune that totally works here in “My Best Theory”. If you believe in Jim Adkins, clapping in time to “Heart is Hard to Find” will keep him and the rest of Jimmy Eat World alive.