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23 years down the track, nine albums deep and 15 years after the release of their iconic Bleed American, Jimmy Eat World have added new record Integrity Blues to their ever-growing catalogue.
According to front man Jim Adkins, the 11-track album explores the concept that we are all our own worst enemy. He says that despite the weights of our own egos and our attempts to wrangle our painful reality, we’re all just a work in progress. While the lyrical content is a little more obscure than some of Jimmy’s previous records, the Arizona quartet return with a familiar but more mature version of the pop punk that we’ve come to know and love.
Opening with distant and ethereal-sounding croons in You With Me, the track sets the tone for the mostly mellow vibe that shapes the rest of the album. Sure and Certain kicks in with a foot-tapping drum beat and quickly climbs to the sort of sing-a-long chorus you’d expect from the Jimmy boys. Hidden beneath the pop-punk melodies is some morbid lyrical content, though. “Sure and certain. Wander ’til we’re old. Lost and lurking. Wonder ’til we’re cold,” sings Adkin.
While It Matters opens with a simple keyboard melody, Pretty Grids slams in with some production-heavy guitar. Pass The Baby has an eerier vibe as spoken words replace Adkins’ usual melodic range. This stripped down feel takes an unexpected turn around the four-minute mark, though, and is replaced by slinky rock riffs and punchy drum beats. It’s the perfect segway to Get Right. One of the album’s first singles, it charges in with another gritty guitar riff, angst-ridden lyrics, and a much moodier feel.
Jimmy Eat World slow things down again on You Are Free, though. It’s a cheesy but catchy inspirational anthem of self-love. “You are free to be who you are,” muses Adkins. The deep and meaningfuls continue with The End is Beautiful, which gives off a bit of a You With Me-vibe. There’s also a sense of deep relief in the chorus as Adkins belts out “it doesn’t have to hurt anymore!”.
The pop-infused Through is a stand-out on the album, kicking things up a notch with squealing guitars and a catchy chorus. In contrast, the album’s title track is a beautiful arrangement of strings and synth that truly showcases Adkin’s vocal range as he hits some spine-tingling notes. A paradoxical song about coming to terms with the pains of reality, it undeniably encompasses the concept of the album in one song.
The album closes with Pol Roger and just under seven minutes in length, it’s a monster of a track. While it takes on pop rock stylings for the most part, it fades out with some fuzzy synth that closes the album with an almost retro ’80s vibe.
Integrity Blues might have a moodier and more philosophical vibe than what you’re used to from Jimmy Eat World, but with a career spanning almost as long as this reviewer’s life, can you blame them for wanting to try something new?