Jimmy Eat World - Integrity Blues (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Jimmy Eat World

Integrity Blues (2016)

Dine Alone Records

Integrity Blues is Jimmy Eat World's best record since Bleed American. It was a tough call because I'm a huge fan of Futures and I liked what came after but even I can admit that a lot of the late body of work never felt like JEW was free to make the music they wanted to. Post-Futures, it felt like they were forcing so hard to crank out hits. That aside, I had a really great feeling about this since I saw them at Riot Fest. You could tell how vibrant, fresh and inspired they were and as a lifelong fanboy, this album's nothing short of a joy with so much replay value, I'm not sure when I'll stop.

Off the bat, they strike the right tones with me because they begin charming with music influenced by one of the best albums I've ever heard. "You With Me" sounds like one of the catchier, poppier tracks off Bleed American and they follow up immediately with "Sure and Certain" -- both cheekily and tastefully written and so much so, that you feel like you're in high school again with Jim Adkins telling you not to be afraid of chasing what you want. Justin Medal-Johnsen's production really helps bring out the mainstream accessibility of the album, which feels like JEW plowed through each past album and picked what helped them make the hit songs and then really channel that here. His work with Tegan and Sara, M83 (which really comes to light on the self-titled track) and Paramore  shows up in an album that's hook-heavy, chorus-laden and singalong in every sense of the word. 

It's not all about to sticking to comfort zones though because  "Pass The Baby" (which is mostly experimental electronica beat) ends with one of the band's most frantic, heaviest and crushing of endings.  Futures gets its homage as well with sludgy, grungy guitars off "Get Right" which also has tones that nod to their "Firestarter" cover so many years ago. Dark, cynical and a great contrast for all the light Adkins wants to cover. That said, it's these optimistic and radio-friendly points that curries the album as undeniable and so alluring. "Through" has that shoutalong sensibility for crowds while "The End is Beautiful" is rife with the essence of every anthemic JEW ballad that you chanted as the sun rose on the way home from a night of drinking on the beach. As the album closes, it's apparent that there's something here for every JEW fan and few bands can recapture that magic for all generations these days. So it's very heartwarming to see these guys still can. The band feels unconstrained once more and you can pick up on this in every note and every syllable. It's heaven all over again and I can't wait to see what unfolds next.