Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues

By Ryan G

Recently I witnessed what very well might be my favorite show of the year. Jimmy Eat World absolutely KILLED IT at a recent Newport Music Hall show, which, if anything, placed more pressure on Integrity Blues to be an amazing record. After that show, if this record sucked, that would be a major buzzkill.

It is apparent from the almost angelic harmonies that emerge in the first seconds of “You With Me” that my fears will be quelled. I’ve read elsewhere that “You With Me” draws comparisons to “Big Casino,” and it’s easy to see why. While this song doesn’t quite evoke the same amount of “feels” that it’s relative does, I’m optimistic about the future.

Another thing that makes this record so enjoyable is the timing of its release. While many fans of the band overlook the album Invented, it holds special significance for me because it came out in the fall of my senior year of college. This life stage is significant enough on its own, but Invented became a soundtrack of sorts for rather rough period of soul searching and growth. Now, six years later, Integrity Blues emerges at a point where I find myself at another one of life’s crossroads – exploring vocational directions. First single “Sure and Certain” isn’t as poignant for me as “My Best Theory” six years ago, but the subtle melancholy meets “it will be okay” vibe hits home and ultimately gives me a bit of a warm and fuzzy feeling. “Pol Roger” takes the band back into “poignant long closing song” territory, a feat they skipped on Damage. “23” this song ain’t, but would you really want a song to match that level. Really? “Pol Roger” is satisfying in its own regard.

This isn’t to say that the record isn’t without its thrilling moments. In a matter of weeks “Get Right” has become one of my favorite songs of the year and I get amped up every time I hear it. “Pass the Baby” gets me revved up too, but does so slowly over a brilliantly executed progression of a song that devolves into a bit of noise before getting loud in a fun breakdown.

All in all, Integrity Blues thrives in a midtempo range, much like Futures. Indeed, when the singles were release folks began to wonder if this album would be a “return to form” from their perspective, which is that nothing seems to matter in a post-Futures context and I’m seeing rhetoric online from friends in that group saying that Jimmy Eat World is good again. I maintain that the band never stopped being good (gosh, this is oddly reflective of some current political jabbering) but Integrity Blues, I think most fans would agree, definitely hits the spot. The front half of the record is stronger in this writer’s opinion, but others may prefer the quiet back end.

Score: 4.3/5

Jimmy Eat World: iTunes

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