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

Jimmy Eat World

Integrity Blues (2016)


Some bands have that one iconic album that all of their future albums are judged against. For Jimmy Eat World, that album is Bleed American. Bleed American is the band’s highest selling record, and it launched their mainstream success, for better or worse. It’s the epitome of what the Jimmy Eat World sound can be. It rocks hard when it needs to, and then slows down to yank on the heartstrings when necessary. In a lot of ways, every Jimmy Eat World album gets held up against Bleed American, and some of their most successful post-Bleed American songs, like “Big Casino,” succeeded because of their similarity to the Bleed American sound. Yet, the band did have 10th anniversary tours for the albums that preceded (Clarity) and followed (Futures) Bleed American, while Bleed American’s 10th anniversary merely garnered a one-off show. Perhaps the band started to resent the comparisons to that album, which might explain why, on Integrity Blues, Jimmy Eat World seems to be trying their hardest to make an album that is the exact opposite of Bleed American. Where Bleed American is tight and fast, Integrity Blues is an awkward affair that slowly meanders and drags.

The first thing you’ll notice listening to Integrity Blues is that it doesn’t have any big, hard rock songs. Everything is on the softer side, which leaves something to be desired from a band that’s so good at creating powerful, energetic music. The first half of the album is almost completely unforgettable, with the exception of mildly catchy lead single, “Sure and Certain,” with its lukewarm lyrics held up against some decent pop hooks. The album’s opener, “You with Me,” clocking in at 5:18, is about twice as long as it needs to be.

The album finally starts to get good at track seven and, to the album’s credit, the songs that are good are very good. “You Are Free” is the standout track of the album, pulling off one of the most beautiful, inspirational tracks the band has produced in a long time. Seriously, I might rank it amongst the band’s top five best songs. “You are Free” kicks off the trilogy of three of the best songs on the album with “The End is Beautiful” and “Through.” Then the title track comes in like a very awkward church hymn that leaves Jim Adkins uncomfortably alone with minimal instrumentation . “Pol Roger” picks the album back up again to end the record on a very strong closer.

While Integrity Blues has its moments, and they shine very brightly, more than half of the album takes the traditional Jimmy Eat World sound and waters it down for some sort of easy-listening take on an otherwise great band. Thankfully, though, the bright spots point to a band that hasn’t entirely lost its way, and which still has the potential to get it right on their next album.