Overall Score: 7.5/10 Standout Tracks: 8/10 Consistency: 7/10 Repeat Listen Value: 8/10 Pros: Another promising step back towards their best | Some great standout tracks Cons: Doesn't have the high level of success all the way through
With our review of Jimmy Eat World’s last album, 2016’s Integrity Blues, Rock Sins spoke about how it was a good album but every time it tried to make the leap from good to great it was let down by its inconsistencies. Three years later, Jimmy Eat World have returned with their new album Surviving. Does it suffer the same inconsistencies of its predecessor, does it mark a return to the heralded peak of their powers from the 00’s, or something else entirely?
Kicking off Surviving is the album’s title track; Its upbeat, a main riff that strays quite close to punky territory (at least by Jimmy Eat World standards) and its a perfectly satisfactory album opener. Second track Criminal Energy is where things really start to motor; The track opens with a mini guitar solo, Jim Adkins is at his vocal best, sounding full of purpose and conviction, and the chorus is bang on target to make this song an instant favourite.
555 is the track on the album that seems to have split most opinion, being Jimmy Eat World making a brief foray into something resembling synth-emo (is that a sub-genre? it is now). It’s not “bad” by any means, but its an experiment that doesn’t overly seem to suit them and it wouldn’t be the worst thing if this proved to be a one-off experiment.
The album’s lead single All The Way (Stay) is a slice of classic Jimmy Eat World. Emotional and upbeat at the same time, a great melody, and the best use of a Saxophone since The Xcerts’ Drive Me Wild. It’s one of the best rock songs of the year so far.
The album has several tracks such as Delivery and Love Never that don’t quite hit the heights of the likes of Criminal Energy and All The Way (Stay), but are very much good, enjoyable album tracks. There are a couple of songs like One Mil and Diamond that don’t quite hit the mark, but on Surviving those tracks are in the minority.
The end of Surviving is very strong. Recommit is absolutely drenched in Futures era vibes, evoking memories of the likes of 23 and Polaris. The album closing Congratulations continues this feeling, but takes it even further, almost bordering on post-rock at times. The interlude in the middle in particular is wonderful; A hypnotic little bass section followed by instrumental work the likes of Pelican or Brutus would be proud of. More excellent post-rock-esque instrumental work follows at the close of the track. It’s something quite unique in the Jimmy Eat World catalogue, and as an album closer, it works spectacularly well.
Overall, Surviving is a further considerable step on the path of Jimmy Eat World getting back to their best. It’s not quite at the level of that remarkable run of albums from the 2000’s, but it is easily the best one they have released since Chase This Light, and many of these songs should go down a treat with live audiences.
The new Jimmy Eat World album, Surviving, is out now on Exotic Location Recordings. Buy the album and other associated merch from the band’s official webstore.