Jimmy Eat World
Integrity Blues



by Christopher Y. USER (50 Reviews)
June 9th, 2019 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It takes my (growing) pain away.

Modern Times Series: (Part 1)

Growing old is an inevitable process of life, and it also comes with a large responsibility. For me, I thought going to university would be simple for the first year, but that’s not the case, since I had to deal with choosing my major, preparing my resume (which is now virtually nonexistent) and, the worst of all, waiting for my grades by anticipating which area of the line curve in the course that I landed on(thankfully, by the time I completed writing this review, my GPA is higher than the last term). And I believe this is just the beginning since I am not ready for my career, so I need a music crystal ball to know what’s it like in my uncertain future. Then, I rediscovered Jimmy Eat World’s latest album Integrity Blues, it sounds mature and sometimes even otherworldly beautiful sonically, yet it still sounds relatable and catchy like classic Jimmy Eat World did, sealing this album as the band’s best since Futures.

To kick things off, this album showcases what Jimmy Eat World could do at their best—crafting indelible hooks and warm blankets of relatable lyrics—all the while maintaining the lyrical depths and maturity. Songs such as “You Are Free” and “Sure and Certain” are gorgeous gems that recall their opus Clarity. The former of which is laced with stark piano and gossamer guitars, as well as the comforting lyrics told in a parent’s perspective with vocalist Jim Adkins’ honeyed voice, regarding to being true to yourself which recalls their mega-hit “The Middle”, while Adkins also reminded everyone that they have to be responsible for their actions(“But I’m the one who’s gonna walk it”); the latter is perhaps their catchiest song since “My Best Theory”, opened with a crunching power chords, Adkins sings about stepping beyond our comfort zones(“The clever ways I try to change, happen and pass leaving me the same”), chants an indelible chorus with others, only to end the song with a defying bridge that has echoing piano and a beautifully dissonant guitar riffs. Within the album, the band also flirted with numerous subjects, from strained relationships (“It Matters” and “The End Is Beautiful”), being optimistic (“Pretty Grids”) to desires (“Integrity Blues”), heartbreak (“You With Me”), being destructive and evasive of responsibilities{“Get Right” and the ultra-catchy “Through”}, showing the band’s progressive lyrical growth in depth and scope. However, it was the skyscraping closer “Pol Roger” that really takes the cake, from the brass-laden opening, with Adkins contemplates about his loneliness, as he portrayed such feeling as enjoyable and comfortable(“I’d say get on and close the bedpost curtains/Pretend the ground is fire/I know that’d make you smile”) instead of the dreary mood that many would perceive, and then ends with an ending that includes the band singing the “Na nana” section that recalls the Beatles’ “Hey Jude”, the song is a stunning evoke of the Future highlight “23”, with a crystalline layer of maturity. Compare to the previous albums, this album sounds like the band at their most natural and free-flowing in years, as they sound like they are singing something that is relatable, unlike the more self-conscious, try-hard predecessor Damage, capturing Jimmy Eat World at their strongest form.

Another admirable feature is that they also stepped up the experimentation of their music, especially in terms of the lush, electronica-aided production that might lead many to concern about. “Pass the Baby” is one of the prime examples, whereas they begin the song with a tension-filled atmosphere weaved with dense basslines, Adkins’ ghostly singing, the haunting backing vocals, and guitar works, the shimmering synths and clockwork beats, then proceed the song with a surprising, fiery, bass-heavy guitars that recalls the heyday of Black Sabbath and majestic percussions. As a result, the song is perhaps their darkest and heaviest song since “Get It Faster”. On the other hand, most of the albums are more of sophisticatedly produced songs. From electronic beauty (“Pretty Grids”), piano-tinged gems(“It Matters” and “The End Is Beautiful”) to synth-laced rockers(“You Are Free”, “Sure and Certain”), straight-up hard-rock(“Get Right”, “Through”) and triumphant orchestral grandeurs(“Pol Roger”), this album is perhaps their most sonically diverse works since their opus Clarity. However, the shimmering opener “You With Me” and the breathtaking title track are such sonic high points: the former is laid with echoed, layered guitars, propulsive percussions, and heavenly falsetto harmonies, then followed with unlikely electronica beats in the bridge, creating a tune that is both dreamy and adrenaline-driving; the latter is a ballad filled with strings and brass, filled with Adkins’ reverberated vocals and, later, an atmospheric organ that would fill in every inch of your eardrums. To be fair, for a band who is known for their catchy guitar pop-rock to include an electro-rock-oriented production is one risky step since this could overpower the guitar sound and beautiful lyrics, but it surprisingly works, mirroring the dark, weary lyrical patchwork in this album.

Although there is a brief lack of lyrical refinement, especially in the confusing “Pass The Baby”, Integrity Blues nonetheless showcased Jimmy Eat World what they could do best with a healthy dose of ambition, nostalgia, and maturity, and became the band’s most charming record in years. After listening to this album, my anxiety about the future has been soothed, and it’s not because I have found the crystal ball I was looking for, but that I have discovered a musical lantern which reminds me that I should not worry about my upcoming university life, and I should forge my own instead of following my seniors’ footsteps. Perhaps this is why this album earned so much acclaim and hailed as the band’s best record in years, as it provides lyrical comfort that is relatable without having the band being self-conscious. An “unlikely spiritual sequel” of Bleed American? (quoted from Ian Cohen in his Pitchfork review of this album, whose publication used to pan their early masterworks) I do not think that is an exaggeration at all, as it captures the band’s signature heartfelt vocals and emotional lyrics at its best, with an unlikely, nocturnal electronica-laden production which recalls Clarity flourish such beautiful features, solidifying this album as a triumphant pop-rock album that is certainly the band’s best within this decade, and perhaps one of the best rock album in this decade overall.

Personal Rating: 4.48/5

Personal Favourite:
You With Me
Sure and Certain
You Are Free
Integrity Blues
Pol Roger

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Comments:Add a Comment 
June 9th 2019


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Phew, finally I reviewed one of my favorite rock albums this decade. It took me quite a while to fall in love with it. I tried to write it as concise as possible, so I could avoid writing a long one like Sowings' one for this album or my review for Bleed American. Anyway, enjoy.

On the other hand, this is my very first review for the Modern Times Series, which reviews standout albums within this decade(this year excluded). I will debut another series soon, which is the mid-year review series, which also reviews standout records within this year. Also, I have also debuted my Old Times Series, where I review older classics.

As always, any constructive criticism for both this review and my series is welcomed.

June 9th 2019


Album Rating: 4.5

Love this album dearly and agreed about this being one of their best works. Also pos from me, nice write up tho I'd maybe recommend using some sort of formatting for the titles of albums or songs, since that makes it somewhat easier to read.

June 9th 2019


Album Rating: 5.0

This is quite possibly their best album. I can never decide between this and Futures. Good review!

June 10th 2019


Album Rating: 5.0

Good review for one of my favorite albums this last decade.

June 10th 2019


Album Rating: 3.0

i don't get it i don't get it i don't get it

the review is great though

June 10th 2019


Album Rating: 2.0

Same. Futures, in my humble opinion, was their last good album.

Great review [2]

June 10th 2019


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Review is amazing. This is not my fav JEW, in fact I think Invented is ahead of this, but 5th best? Absolutely.

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