Album Review: Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues (2016)

27 Oct

jimmy_eat_world_integrityblues

7/10

Full disclosure. I haven’t listened to Jimmy Eat World for years. Not that I was so ignorant to think that they simply ceased to exist but they just weren’t on my radar until I came across “Get Right” on my phone, and made a mental note to check out the album when it dropped, and check it out I did.

Integrity Blues is Jimmy Eat World’s ninth album and some say it’s their best since 2004’s Futures. (I wouldn’t know!). Going into this I didn’t know what to expect other than that I had heard the two singles they released prior to the album launch, “Get Right” and “Sure and Certain” and that I liked them. My impression of those two tracks were that this was a more grown up sounding Jimmy Eat World, with a moody, modern electro pop-rock sound and evoking images of night-time driving and headlights etc. A far cry from my memories of their emo, pop-punk days.

They certainly are a band that I need to delve deeper into because as soon as anyone mentions them I instantly think of “The Middle” or “Sweetness” from 2001 release Bleed American and it’s quite evident from the get-go that they have more to offer me.

The aforementioned “Sure and Certain” puts me in familiar territory, a bright, up-tempo rock song but it is opening song “You With Me” with its synthpop sound that sticks in my head long after it finishes. This is possibly my favourite track on the album. “Pretty Grids” also has a synth hook at the end of the chorus that could very well be put in an 80s movie soundtrack and not feel out of place.

“Pass The Baby” starts off with a drum machine and has a very dark and eerie quality about it. Again it’s another song that has that movie soundtrack feel to it in that I instantly imagine a dark and sleazy Los Angeles with glimpses of neon here and there. Very atmospheric indeed. What comes next though is completely unexpected as the understated tones fade and the song erupts into noise and a big, hard Audioslave-esque rock riff kicks in. Not being overly familiar with a large chunk of their discography I wouldn’t know but, is that the heaviest Jimmy Eat World has ever been? My only gripe with the end of the song is that it ends abruptly. Doesn’t feel right to me. This leads us into “Get Right” with its chugging guitars and  where singer Jim Adkins seems to channel his frustration with stagnation and the anthemic “You Are Free”

The acoustic breakup song “The End Is Beautiful” is pretty but nothing about it stands out. “Through” is another decent effort but to me sounds like a generic Jimmy Eat World song. Title cut “Integrity Blues” is very experimental and has a Sigur Ros quality about it. Delicate layers of textured guitars, organs and brass play underneath Jim’s vulnerable, reverbed vocals. “It’s all what you do when no one cares” he sings.

The second half of this 11 track album is definitely weaker than the first, but, for me, its momentum does carry it through and leaves you with the feeling that you’ve just heard a good album as opposed to a great one. I have listened to this album a few times since its release and I do enjoy it for the most part and definitely recommend it. I’m off now to pore over their back catalogue.

David

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