Nine studio albums is a feat rarely reached by artists, and yet Jimmy Eat World is here with with their latest release, Integrity Blues. Previous albums have faltered – the appeal of work such as Bleed American and Futures where the band found critical success set a high bar for the band. In their latest attempt, Integrity Blues manages to not only reach that bar, but surpasses it in a sign that Jimmy Eat World still has a few good years (and albums) left in them. Before the official release tomorrow (21 October 2016), Slope Media Group again has the pleasure of providing our readers with an advance album review.
The nearly five-and-a-half minute opener “You With Me” takes its time in bringing the album to a start, slowly adding layer upon layer to the track. Rolling into the chorus, a strike of energy hits and suddenly five-and-a-half minutes are over before you know it. Likewise, lead single “Sure and Certain” maintains the high level of youthful energy. Everything about the opening songs are reminiscent of the band’s trademark sound. Combined with tracks such as “Get Right” and “Pol Roger,” the album revives the band’s familiar sound without simply feeling like rehashed material.
The most noticeable instances of experimental sound and influence take place on the back-to-back “Pretty Grids” and “Pass the Baby.” While the former takes a more simplistic approach, the latter recalls the slow-burning growth of the opening track. Again clocking in at just under five-and-a-half minutes, the track features dark, almost brooding lyrics and an ominous, borderline industrial sound. Meanwhile, the album’s sixth track, “Get Right,” is perhaps the most reminiscent of the group’s prior work. Its gritty style and overall sound would have made “Get Right” feel right at home on the band’s 2004 Futures.
As “Get Right” comes to a close, so does the darkness and grit of the album’s instrumental and lyrical content. Following up, tracks such as “You Are Free” and “Through” bring a lively feel to the album, even despite lyrics that could easily be interpreted as anything but lively and carefree. In contrast, the somber-sounding “The End is Beautiful” could easily be construed as an uplifting song depending upon one’s perspective. Although these songs showcase the idea most clearly, lead-singer Jim Adkins stated in an interview with Alternative Press that “You could look at a song like ‘You Are Free’—or most of the songs on the record—in two perspectives. The door is closed, or there are a cosmic number of doors that have opened. What is the more sustaining way to view your situation?”
Closing the album out is the title track, followed by “Pol Roger.” The simplicity of “Integrity Blues” emphasizes the emotional impact of the song, and of the album as a cohesive whole. Adkins, and Jimmy Eat World as a whole, have found no problem in creating an album that is both engaging and so evocative of emotion. Continuing in this trend, “Pol Roger” follows up, presenting itself as a near-seven-minute epic akin to “23” or “Goodnight Sky Harbor.” The track’s lyrics fully tie together the central theme of the album, to which Adkins says, “It is about throwing away your default responses to life, accept life on the terms of life and becoming willing to accept the best any of us have is to be in a state of progress.”
All in all, Integrity Blues marks a substantial comeback moment for Jimmy Eat World. In contrast to more recent albums, this work shows a renewed sense of inspiration and liveliness. It takes the countless lessons learned over the eight prior records and the past 23 years as a band to create a cohesive work that fans both old and new will be able to thoroughly enjoy. Every track on the album is able to stand strongly on its own, and together as an album, the execution is even more masterful. Integrity Blues may very well be the new defining album for Jimmy Eat World.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Slope Media Group received this material free from the artist/label to review. Slope Media Group was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. We disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”