I'd never been a Jimmy Eat World before this album hit. Songs like the middle and bleed american just seemed kind of repetetive, and i got so sick of the middle that I don't think I'll ever want to hear it again. However, Jimmy Eat World made a wise decision not to rip themselves off on this album, and it pays off. Don't get me wrong, "Futures" is far from a huge departure, but most of the time, the band trades in its harder, two and a half minute songs for a batch of softer, far more melodic songs. The sound is crisper than on previous albums, the vocals improved, and the songwriting exemplified. Spearheaded by its two singles "Pain" and "Work", the former especially giving an impression that the band hasn't changed at all, are just pieces of a chain of excellent rock songs. Upbeat rockers like "Futures", and the irresistible "Kill", perhaps the best and most addicting song on the album, will satisfy the fans of the hard edged "Bleed American", and ballads like "Polaris" and "Night Drive" will certainly be hits with the fans of the softer "Clarity", so all fans of the band should be pleased with this eleven song tour de force.
What amazes me about this release is that the band links great song after great song. Even the weakest tracks on the CD, "Nothingwrong" which is hard but not as catchy as "Pain" or "Just Tonight", and the incredibly slow moving "Drugs Or Me", which actually goes too slow, are better than most of the music played frequently on the radio, and many will find themselves loving these tracks almost as much as the others (I became very fond of "Drugs or Me" despite the fact that it might be my least favorite song on the album). However, all complaints are pointless, for Jimmy Eat World have saved the best for last with the epic and heartwrenching "23", a perfect ballad, and a perfect finale.
Another thing was that "Futures" never wore on me. If anything it got better everytime I listened to it. Nearly three quarters of a year after it's release, I still listen to it regularly, and even after so many listens, still find new bits to love. Jimmy Eat World's "Futures" is a flawless pop/rock record, and one that I will remember in ten years as one of the best of 2004, and one of the best of the decade. Five stars and my highest recommendations.