Courtesy of RCA Records

October 31, 2016

TEST SPIN: Jimmy Eat World — Integrity Blues

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Jimmy Eat World’s newest release, Integrity Blues, weaves its way through nearly every subgenre of alternative in 11 songs. It’s got a little bit of progressive rock, a chunk of emo, a healthy dose of pop and a block of dark electronic. It’s diverse, well rounded and flows pretty well. It’s not completely cohesive, but moves through its different phases as gracefully as possible.

The first phase is poppy and catchy. It reminds me of my dad’s favorite progressive rock bands and quintessential pop, without sounding too much like either. I’d recommend it for waiting for a TCAT in the rain and maybe even a sing along on a long car ride. They fall in a nice middle ground between upbeat and chill, the tempo fast and defined enough to keep your attention, but calm enough to not be consuming.

The album shifts a little bit during “Pretty Grids,” adding some harsh rhythm guitar, mostly as a back drop, and some dissonant piano. The songs become more rhythmically dominated, with short and loud drum beats and steady rhythm guitar. It’s very dark musically and gets more and more dark lyrically. Until, all of a sudden, it’s back to more upbeat, lighter, alt-pop.

This is your requisite, gratuitous empowerment section. Like all good Jimmy Eat World albums, there has to be a section that can only relate to when you’re at your emotional rock bottom, feeling like you’ll never be okay again. There’s unrestrained idealism, empathy and kindness, and repetition to nearly take the form of a mantra. While it seems a little overdramatic, I have yet to listen to the album when it seems like the world is disintegrating around me. If that’s how your day is going, I recommend starting with “You Are Free,” and listening through the rest of the album.

The album rounds itself out with “Integrity Blues,” the titular track, and “Pol Rogers,” both of which are blues tracks only in their emo yearning for some sort of fulfillment. Or, really, every type of fulfillment. It puts out some pseudo-low-fi then prolonged power pop with a drawn-out instrumental fadeout.

Integrity Blues takes a look into the merits of fitting into a certain, designated, place in the world. It’s got some good thought on the conundrum of fitting in versus sticking out, and the ethics of doing what’s “right.” It is a bit of a reflection on what is right and wrong and the intersection of personal responsibility and aspirations (or lack thereof). It’s not that deep, but it’s there and worth thinking about.
It’s not the Jimmy Eat World that got you through your angsty middle school days, but it’s fun, It’s easy to listen to, and you’re not in middle school anymore. The lyrics aren’t ground-breaking, but they’re tried and tested trademarks of alternative rock- consoling, empowering, and empathetic. The melodies are fuller, the rhythms are harsher, and the sound is more refined. It’s a solid alternative pop/rock album. Jimmy Eat World took the safe route on this album, and they did what they could. While a revolutionary, genius album is always great, Jimmy Eat World is chugging along, making consistently good albums, without shaking it up too much, and there’s virtue in that.

Katie Sims is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]