As the torch-bearers of pop-friendly emo, Jimmy Eat World’s ability to transcend the much-maligned genre to maintain a well-respected career is due in large part to their devotion to making searing, life-affirming rock tunes that people care about. Back with their seventh studio effort and follow-up to 2007’s Chase This Light, the Mark Trombino-produced Invented has an addictive, rousing spirit, with few unnecessary and plodding detours. “Heart is Hard to Find,” the ultra-earnest album opener is an affecting laundry list of ointments that don’t fix things the way we need them to (love, religion, friendships) as we weather the adventures in melancholy and disappointment that can characterize young adulthood. It’s an ideal primer for the 10 songs that follow, such as the in-your-face pop leanings of newly crowned hit single, “My Best Theory” with its fist-pumping urgency and Linkin Park-esque atmospherics.
Standouts such as the pessimistic “Movielike” (Nothing movie-like/Nothing magic/People just tire to fight the constant battle/Waiting to see a sign?/Then you’ve seen the best already), the Williamsburg-esque youthful romanticism of “Coffee and Cigarettes,” the gorgeous lovelorn anthems “Stop,” “Invented” and “Cut,” and album closer “Mixtape” are sturdy, believably vulnerable journeys that do not grow stale or overly tiresome with repeat listens. In fact, Invented, with all of its contemplative commiserating, is one of the most emotionally insightful – and satisfying – commercial rock records of the year. The appeal of this kind of awkward honesty and confessional songwriting rarely lasts longer than first blush, and time and again, Jimmy Eat World has proven to be the exception to the rule. Don’t expect that trend to change any time soon. (DGC/Interscope) –Carrie Alison