As I did recently with another review about a band I feel very passionately about (Metallica’s Hardwired…To Self-Destruct), I’m going to break with our standard review structure when it comes to talking about Jimmy Eat World’s recent release, Integrity Blues.
Jimmy Eat World are a band that I have always held deep affection for, and on that run of Bleed American, Futures and Chase This Light, they could do no wrong for me. But Chase This Light was now eight years ago, and the two albums that have come out in the meantime (Invested and Damage) have done absolutely nothing for me.
So upon hearing the first couple of songs to surface from Integrity Blues, such as Get Right, I was hugely encouraged. This sounded like a return to the Jimmy Eat World I loved. So is it? Yes, and no. Firstly, Jim Adkins and friends should be commended for going out of their comfort zone on Integrity Blues. They’ve tried a lot of different things, some which work well, and others which really don’t.
It starts with a bang; You With Me and Sure and Certain are songs with a classic Jimmy Eat World approach to them, managing simultaneously to be upbeat yet having an old school emo tinge at the same time. It Matters would have fit in snuggly on Chase This Light, while the aforementioned Get Right is the best song released by Jimmy Eat World in the last ten years.
Where for me Integrity Blues falls flat is on the slower numbers; The title track adopts a tone akin to a warbly indie funeral dirge that goes nowhere. At track four, Pass The Baby is a song that kills the early momentum of the album stone dead, and it never quite recovers. Only with The End Is Beautiful do they capture the aura that exuded from songs like For Me This Is Heaven and much of the Futures album; A very good, reflective, emotional song. Certain other songs where they try to change things up a little such as Pretty Grids also come across as jarring rather than anything more positive, while the nearly seven minute closing Pol Roger is another foray out of their comfort zone with mixed results.
Ultimately, this album has frustrated the hell out of me. There’s easily some of Jimmy Eat World’s best work since the halcyon days of most of the 00’s, and there’s a great album that keeps threatening to break out here. But every time you think it’s going to cross the barrier from “good” to great, it’s let down by its inconsistencies. Integrity Blues is definitely their best album for nearly a decade though, so lets hope things continue to move in the right direction.
Integrity Blues is out now on RCA Records.