November 15, 2016 Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues (Album Review)
From the birth of Jimmy Eat World in Mesa, Arizona over two decades ago to their latest release, 2016’s Integrity Blues, a lot has happened. It seems that the four piece band consisting of Jim Adkins (guitar, vocals), Tom Linton (guitarist, backing vocals), Rick Burch (bassist), and Zach Lind (drums), with nine albums, eight of which are with the current lineup, are here to throw down a deeper level of Rock that bleeds into the disregard of maturity. That in mind, it has been said the band became self conscious of their age in an industry that is always after the next best new thing. This statement is made right away in the opening song, “You With Me,” with its chorale of vocals and lightly strummed guitar. Mid-tempo with a Pop feel, it questions the reality that the band seems to be living. Taking time off to regroup is pretty clear, and Jimmy Eat World seems like they are comfortable with being themselves as Integrity Blues marches on.
The track “Sure And Curtain” brings that self examination into a new level, pondering existence can get really old, and a person can too. Sometimes simplistic, the songwriting quite possibly is that for a reason as it layers back-up vocals in with solid drums and guitar work. Making for a great transition into “It Doesn’t Matter,” featuring piano and drums, the homage is an echo full of loneliness. “Happiness is one of those fleeting finish lines,” he writes in a letter accompanying the album, a rare explanatory gesture for the band. “Integrity matters because if you let the answer of ‘Who do I need to be?’ inform your question ‘What should I do?,’ there just isn’t room for that negative cycle to get traction.”
For fans of the old school Jimmy Eat World, “Pretty Grid” is a taste of that sound with heavier bass, keyboards, and subtle production from Justin Medal-Johnson. Then, “Pass The Baby” is the standout song with stark and hollow lyrics pointing at an industry that is a blessing and a curse. Rocking with a heavier hand, it musically kicks the energy up to the next level. Offering an anthem to the present moment, “Get Right” may be a result of getting older, valuing the context of now.
The four singles from 2001’s Bleed American on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks, along with some years of introspection, might have something to do with the deeper level displayed on the songs. The track “You Are Free” echos that sentiment lyrically and starts to mirror the new grown up chapter in the band’s life. “It’s just part of growing up, which is funny to say being as old as we are,” says Adkins. He adds, “The only thing consistent in life is that it’s going to change, and I think that’s something that gets shown to you over and over as time goes on. I guess [it’s about] finding your way through that – you can look at it as a challenge, or you can look at it as an opportunity. If you look at it as an opportunity you end up in a place where you can grow from it. That’s also been shown over and over again, and the rewards from that are hard to quantify. If you just look at things as an opportunity for growth, you’re always shown something that you didn’t expect. That ends up leading you to a better place.”
Transitioning out towards the end of Integrity Blues comes “The End Is Near,” which begins simply, guitar and vocals stand alone beautifully before the other instrumentation follows. Restraint is the keyword here, and it works. Thereafter, “Through” follows the same vibe of the previous piece, though allowing Adkins to vocally shine a bit more. He has range and often sits in the same vocal comfort zone. This is before the title-track, “Integrity Blues,” which is raw emotion, so much so that the hollow feel of the recording almost feels uncomfortable. This is art all in itself, a display of emotion masterfully augmented by the mix. Finally, “Pol Roger” seems to be a call to the next generation of fans that have yet to find Jimmy Eat World and their brand of Pop Rock Punk music, wrapping up this interesting record nicely.
Sweetly melancholy, Integrity Blues is an Emo flash forward to the unknown. “I’d rather be the unsexy fact, rather than the opinion that’s going to change next week,” Jim Adkins says, reflecting on the band’s longevity and new album Integrity Blues. The only flaw here is that the album takes four songs to kick into gear, but those who stick around, it all pays off. CrypticRock gives Integrity Blues 4 out of 5 stars.