Three albums and nearly a decade after “The Middle” made Jimmy Eat World a platinum-selling rock act, it looks less and less likely that the Arizona band will return to those heights. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that it reunited with producer Mark Trombino for its sixth album. Trombino and Jimmy Eat World have a long history; he produced 1996’s Static Prevails, the 1999 second-wave-emo classic Clarity, and the 2001 breakthrough Bleed American. He also was the original producer of 2004’s Futures, before he fell out with the band and the sessions were scrapped.
With Trombino at the helm, it’s easy to see Invented as a return to Jimmy Eat World’s punk-derived roots, especially with boisterous rock songs like “Coffee And Cigarettes” and “Action Needs An Audience” (featuring Jimmy Eat World’s original vocalist, guitarist Tom Linton, on lead vocals for the first time in a decade). Other songs boast huge-sounding guitars, like “Evidence,” “Invented,” and “My Best Theory,” whose thick fuzz recalls Smashing Pumpkins. But the seven-minute “Invented” spends more time exploring a sparser mood, as does the six-minute-plus closer, “Mixtape.”
In the end, Jimmy Eat World strikes a balance between its basics (big guitars and catchy sing-alongs) and the musical growth of the past 16 years. Invented is less a return to form than a compendium of what Jimmy Eat World does so well.