“Oh my god I love this song, I used to listen to this in middle school!” Declared culture commander Taylor Swift in her latest Apple Music advert as she jammed to Jimmy Eat World’s 2001 (and endless Guitar Heroes) hit, ‘The Middle’. Does their latest album contain classics on this level, or is it another adult break-up album with nothing new?
Being their ninth collective output since their 1994 debut amidst the height of emo and pop-punk’s mainstream popularity, Jimmy Eat World’s new album, Integrity Blues, sees Jim Adkins and his band generate enough heart-warming choruses to heat a large hot-tub and sauna. Although the album has managed to draw attention back to the aging group through delicate guitars and crisp vocals; as the band seek to escape the dreaded ‘pop rock’ label (whilst still maintaining a wide appeal), the formulaic radio tracks that still riddle this album lack the life and feeling that Adkins’ passionate lyrics yearn for.
can we find the profound and jagged jimmy that we’ve recently been Estranged from?
Released on the same day as emo band American Football’s highly anticipated comeback album, Jimmy’s contribution seems overshadowed – albeit critically rather than commercially. While Jimmy Eat World deliver similarly earnest vocals, the unique jazzy tempos and constant aural captivation that are granted by American’s Football are replaced by Jimmy Eat World with repetitive song structures and symphonies of power chords. However, within Integrity Blues, past these Chris Martin choruses, can we find the profound and jagged Jimmy that we’ve recently been estranged from?
Following on from the churning guitars and ear-wakening instrumentation of the hopeful forth track ‘Pretty Grids’, the haunting ‘Pass the Baby’ is where Jimmy Eat World properly provide. Industrial and eerie, the tone mustered by this song is melancholy and suspenseful. Suddenly, with an intense swelling guitar gain, the track crashes into a break-down of stamping riffs and drums in a gutsy eruption and abrupt deviation from the album’s initial melodic tranquillity. With the previous songs seeming insipid, this aversion is speculative, making the track vast and refreshing. Now at album’s centre, is the worst behind us? Will the album’s second half be a masterpiece? Maybe this is what they meant by ‘The Middle’.
fans of the band and any straightforward rock will listen to this album with adoration
Then leading into the first and most promising single from Integrity Blues, ‘Get Right’, Jimmy Eat World take an empowered stab at revisiting their iconic Bleed American style. Despite its compelling combination of catchy song-writing and heavier instrumentation, the song is simply a mediocre rehash of a sound many have loved. Equally, the album’s other single ‘Sure and Certain’ looked to take their triumphant pop rock from Chase This Light and pummel it with overproduction and more harmonic take-offs. Another track that missed its potential is the album’s title track. With roughly recorded vocals, the song is distant whilst simultaneously intimate. The raw and atmospheric voice reaches echoed heights, but the thick string section backing Adkins’ humble vocals swallow the track’s attempt at a stripped back tear-jerker. But in good Jimmy Eat World fashion, Integrity Blues features the brooding seven minute closer ‘Pol Roger’ – if only the album could have started from here onwards.
Ultimately, fans of the band and any straightforward rock will listen to this album with adoration. But also, with the same disappointment that every artist earns when they don’t quit while ahead.
Tracks to check out: ‘Pretty Grids’, ‘Pass the Baby, and ‘Pol Roger’.