Album Review: Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues

Jimmy Eat World Integrity Blues

Jimmy Eat World’s previous release Damage was met with lacklustre reception. I had pre-ordered the record and honestly liked it, but I can appreciate that it didn’t have the same X-factor of previous albums. So you can see why fans were nervous about Integrity Blues.

I saw Jimmy Eat World play Futures in Auckland and it was great. The band certainly hadn’t lost any appeal, so I had faith that they could return to form with future releases.

True to my expectations, Integrity Blues is an improvement upon Damage. It has been a grower for me, rewarding every additional listen by unearthing another brilliant moment that I’d previously missed.

Anyone expecting an album full of “The Middle” or “Sweetness” – two of their breakthrough singles – will be disappointed. Integrity Blues is more slow burner than upbeat emo anthem album. A choir of layered voices add depth to the vocals, some drawn out bridges add tasteful breathing room between choruses, and the piano fills in dramatic moody phases.

The production is brilliant. Listening to the album through headphones is a stunning experience. Subtle moments really shine when listened to closely. Drum solos and bridging sections in various songs take me back to when I first heard the show-stopping echoing outro of “Lucky Denver Mint”.

Some parts completely took me by surprise. The stoner rock riffage at the end of “Pass The Baby” is enough to awaken your inner-metalhead. And the use of double-kick/toms (I can’t tell which) in “You Are Free” are tasteful and effective in a way I never would have expected.

The two singles (“Sure And Certain”, and “Get Right”) are, unsurprisingly, the standout tracks. That’s why they were chosen as singles. Not amazing, but not bad either. And I guess that really sums up the album. It’s likable, but not gripping. Well recorded, certainly… but uninspiring overall.

Integrity Blues will please Jimmy Eat World fans, but is unlikely to earn too many new fans. Don’t let that turn you off giving it a listen though. Good things take time, and this album will reward you if you stick with it.


Joseph James

Live Review: Jimmy Eat World play the Futures album at the Auckland Powerstation


Jimmy Eat World playing at the Auckland Powerstation

Jimmy Eat World (Mesa, Arizona, USA)

w/ The Sinking Teeth

The Powerstation, Auckland

Saturday 8 November 2014

Jimmy Eat World released their fifth album, Futures, ten years ago. This was as good a reason as any for the band to do an anniversary tour with the premise of playing the album start to finish at each show.

It is always interesting when a band plays a notable album in its entirety. You know most of the songs that will feature during the set, but can never tell if the band is going to do something more. Weezer did it well when they played their eponymous Blue Album at Vector Arena last year. They started off with a greatest hits set, followed by an intermission that featured a presentation from a long serving roadie about Weezer’s formative years, before wrapping it up with the Blue Album. When Shihad played Killjoy and The General Electric they had a rule that the encores could only feature songs that had been released prior to the album they’d just played live. I was happy to see Jimmy Eat World play Futures, but was hoping that they would play a selection of other songs as well.

I needn’t have worried. As promised, the band played all eleven songs from Futures, commencing with the title track and finishing with album closer23″. But then they played a selection of songs that spanned a good portion of their catalogue, enough to please everyone present.

The musicians were stationed onstage with drums and keys at the rear, and the bass and two guitars at the front. This added an interesting visual dynamic. The symmetry was nice, but the band was mainly lit from behind, leaving the forward standing members silhouetted for most of the night. This seemed deliberate, because it was clear that the lighting technician knew what he was doing. The lighting wasn’t spectacular, but it added a lot to the show in a subtle way.


The bass and guitar players at the front were frequently silhouetted

There’s something special about seeing a band play their entire album live. They sounded just like the CD, from the rousing “Futures”, to the solemn “Drugs or Me”, to the tender “Night Drive” and the album highlight “Pain”.

My one critique was that the band had a backing track of string section during the song “Drugs or Me”. This is me being purist and nit-picky, but when I go to a live performance I expect it to be exactly that: performed live. It didn’t take away from the experience, and actually enhanced the mood of the song, but I prefer not to listen to pre-recorded music in a live context.

Futures is a great album, it sets a mood and simmers away. But the following set added urgency and unpredictability to the show because we no longer knew what was coming next.

The second half of the night showcased another side to the band. They seemed to become more energetic and less restrained. Lead guitarist Jim Adkins became increasingly wild with each guitar solo. Rhythm guitarist Tom Linton sang lead vocals for “Blister”. It was a good mix of songs from various albums and the audience became more enthralled as the band kept delivering by playing songs that we had hoped for.

For their final encore the band inevitably concluded with the two yet unplayed singles from their 2001 album Bleed American: “Sweetness” and “The Middle”. I’m sure that everybody had been eagerly anticipating these two hits, and judging from the crowd reaction the band chose well to end on such a high.

Because this was my first time seeing Jimmy Eat World, I think I would have preferred to see a standard show. That said, it was pretty unique show. They played a range of songs, old and new, but I got a glimpse of the band that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It was a great night and I’d certainly like to see them play again.

Joseph James

Lead guitarist Jim Adkins became increasingly wild with each guitar solo

Lead guitarist Jim Adkins became increasingly wild with each guitar solo