Review: Integrity Blues (2016) – Jimmy Eat World

integrity-bluesThe boys from Arizona return with the finest album since 2004’s titanic Futures. Polished, focused and brimming with supreme confidence, the presence of Justin Meldal-Johnsen as producer has had a huge impact on the sound and energy of Integrity Blues. Jimmy Eat World are back!

We’re nine albums into the journey of Jimmy Eat World, a band that’s been around since 1993, and along the way they’ve carved a niche in melodic alt rock and danced around mainstream pop leanings. 23 years in and we arrive at Integrity Blues, an album that harks back to the exploratory alt pop roots that cemented them in efforts such as Clarity, Bleed American, Chase This Light and Futures yet maintains its own unique identity. That identity is solely achieved by the presence of Nine Inch Nails-man/producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who polishes and finesses these tracks with a supreme shine. If 2013’s Damage was a stripped back, raspy, defiant cry of a break up album, then Integrity Blues is its antidote sheen. Sure, lyrically, Jim Adkins traverses the insecurity and loneliness of the life of songwriting and the strains on personal relationships here but there is an invested, even positive in cases, outlook in everything on show.

Integrity Blues feels assured from the moment it begins with You With Me. Echoes and acoustic strums, layered with effects and a choral falsetto, the songs confident opening build acts like a ‘remember us?’ notion. It works a treat. As you traverse these 11 tracks, the whole thing feels cleaner with stand outs including Sure and Certain, It Matters, Pretty Grids, You Are Free, Integrity Blues and Pol Roger. It’s the reworkings of the songs from a production that really shines through, there’s no doubt these are Jimmy Eat World songs, but when fused with subtle electronica elements and synth effects it adds a freshness.

The experience is highly rotational, easily accessible and insures the band’s enduring vitality. (That Sure and Certain isn’t rocketing up the charts as we speak staggers me.) For a devotee fan, it’s a direct hit, for new listeners this is a great place to start.

Integrity Blues is a work of a band re-invested. It’s Jimmy Eat World‘s finest since Futures and is a highlight on the musical scene of 2016. A winner, this puppy is a worthy addition to your collection – get on it!