Jimmy Eat World “Integrity Blues”
Moving forward while everyone wants you to stay in the middle.
by Tom Mullen
Given the fact that this is the 9th Jimmy Eat World album and the band has been around for 23 years, it’s time for everyone to cherish each day Jim, Tom, Zach and Rick continue being a band. If not for a very popular and amazing song that is still being played on the radio, we might not have had that chance. I’ll take my lumps and enjoy the show at a larger venue, slightly different clientele that partake in the festivities. I’ve come, in my old age, to be ok with that.
Seemingly overnight, there were countless fans to watch, listen and experience this band I’d been a fan of and key point, continue to be. I’m not talking about those that get nostalgic on a Thursday afternoon after finding their copy of Bleed American sitting in their car’s glove box just under the David Guetta burned CDR or those folks accidentally typing in Jim James, and seeing Jimmy Eat World show up on Spotify. I’m talking about the fans that maybe have two or three albums, maybe dabbled with Futures or remembered picking up Chase This Light.
Integrity Blues has classic elements of many of their previous releases and influences. This is not a band making a pop record which I’ve heard from the peanut gallery as the first few songs trickled out. Don’t get me started on bands that were supposedly independent and now pop bands. *Insert you know who right here.* Internet chatter aside, the songs overall feel open and airy. The previous two records Invented and Damage felt to me had moments of perfection with songs like “Appreciation,” “I Will Steal You Back” and “Littlething.” Overall the tunes felt things were missing, if that makes sense. That moment of euphoria I was talking about. The chills on the back of your neck. That moment. What hit me quickly with Integrity Blues was the chorus in “Sure and Certain,” and how it took me back to 1999 instantly for you maybe 2001 or 2004 or 1994. Wherever your happy place with Jimmy Eat World is. That quiet/loud sound but giving it a sense of euphoria that had me thinking about staring out a window late at night without a cell phone. Wow, I sound old. Maybe I am. For some, it may be, staring out a window waiting for a video to load on YouTube or link from Reddit.
Speaking of YouTube, I recently watched a clip of the band performing songs from their first major label release Static Prevails. There’s surprisingly a lot out there due to the fact that major labels throw you out to do every single thing that a partner will ask for. You’re at the beck and whim of the label, especially back then, for every in-store and interview. What was magical about watching those early clips was how much it reminded me of “Sure and Certain.” It just had that same sense of wonder those early songs like “Digits” had.
“Sure and Certain” is one of the best songs the band has ever written. Yup, I wrote that. It has every classic element of their sound without sounding derivative of any of their previous work. The lyric phrasing, the simple notes that seemingly feel as. The build up prior to the last chorus pulls you in not once but twice.
This album just doesn’t come at you with bangers but has some depth with challenging songs and challenging what you think or could be a Jimmy Eat World song. When Clarity came out, it was different than Static Prevails, the same can be said for Bleed American. The same goes for Integrity Blues. There’s a chance you’ll hear your favorite part or sound deep within this album. “You Are Free” is one that’s deep in the album but could have lived on any previous album. Fitting on side two of Bleed American or Clarity.
Enough about looking back, let’s look at a couple other stand outs. “The End is Beautiful” is a stand out showing the band could if they wanted, just write epic slow jams for eternity. Similar, the last track “Pol Roger” and it’s 6 plus minute ending has the feeling of a set closer on the 2nd leg of this tour cycle.
Integrity Blues should have a worthy slot on the radio dial based on history alone, if it truly mattered any more. It’s now largely in the hands of secret playlist creators for streaming services behind locked doors. The gatekeepers aren’t radio programmers at your local frozen yogurt opening giving away free stickers anymore, it’s an unknown group dragging and dropping songs at a computer. Not all is lost, awareness and support is made by many, not a few. Rise up for this album America.
My hope is Integrity Blues is an album all fans will remember this band like they did or continue to and show a new generation the importance and depth of Jimmy Eat World. Is this the one album to bring it back? Not entirely sure in this day and age of countless things to digest on a daily basis. I can only hope the music gods continue to rain down music from a band I don’t want to stop any time soon.
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