‘It is about throwing away your default responses to life, accept life on the terms of life and becoming willing to accept the best any of us have is to be in a state of progress.’
Lead singer Jim Adkins penned a letter to fans and followers of Jimmy Eat World last month, ahead of a series of tour dates and the release of their latest record. Jimmy Eat World are indisputably a band that have consistently influenced the pop-punk landscape over the past 20-something years, and they’ve carefully straddled the line between commercial success and well deserved respect in their field since then.
The letter began as above, detailing the direction of their ninth studio album, Integrity Blues, out now. His words are revealing; an introduction into the deeply personal world of songwriting and the work of their latest album.
It has to be said, first of all, that Integrity Blues is classic Jimmy Eat World to its core. Their sound has become gradually more refined, pop friendly and mature since the 90s and their latest effort is no exception to that rule, whilst still in keeping with that recognisable mid-noughties pop-punk vibe that fans know and love. It’s worlds away from the feedback heavy and rough vocals of their self-titled debut or second album Static Prevails, and shows the working of a band who have managed to carefully become more mature and thoughtful in their music.
A strong but delicate opening comes in the form of ‘You With Me’, which has the unmistakable Jimmy Eat World stamp – it’s a safety blanket, familiar, safe, comforting and in all honesty, the rest of the album follows suit.
There’s plenty of anthemic material throughout the record; second single ‘Sure and Certain’ being a stand-out tune and instant classic, along with ‘You Are Free’, which has a 1999 Clarity-era feel, and the piano-led ‘It Matters’.
In fact, there are plenty of tracks that nod to their earlier work, like ‘The End Is Beautiful’, an echo of 2001’s ‘Hear You Me’ from their commercial breakthrough record Jimmy Eat World, although the darker, more brooding tracks on the album come like a breath of fresh air. ‘Pass The Baby’ is synth rock-cum-classic rock; an Iron Maiden like ending creates a bridge between ‘Pretty Grids’ and the heavier ‘Get Right’, the band’s first release from the record. It’s interesting enough to see the contrast between the delicate and the downright heavy that, despite not being particularly experimental, the album is pretty great.
The conclusion one comes to the further you delve into Integrity Blues, is that it’s not particularly daring or eccentric. It’s not Earth shattering, but then again, I’m of the opinion that not all music has to be. There are some bands you look to for innovation, and some you look to because they just make good music – music that night not change the world, but it’ll certainly change the lives of many people in that world.
Integrity Blues is an album full of self-reflection, brooding and pop-punk staples and for that, you can’t be displeased as a fan of Jimmy Eat World. It’s a solid effort that might not be their most adventurous, but a great album nonetheless.
Integrity Blues is out now via Dine Alone.