Published Oct 20, 2016In the sonic realm of Jimmy Eat World, change is a subtle thing. Each of their records has its own hallmarks, but they follow a loose script that ensures that any aural exploration that goes on in the studio maintains the sense of wistful optimism that the band's music has evinced since Clarity.
Integrity Blues follows that rough guide, but unlike the group's most recent efforts, takes some steps towards improvising a few lines. The title track comes the closest, backing frontman Jim Adkins' "two steps forward, one step back" search for happiness with sombre strings. It's immediately affecting, and repeated listens reveal the making of a new fan-favourite deep cut in the making. Change also appears in more muted ways: the drum programming on "Pass the Baby," for example, and the deep bass pulse on "Pretty Grids."
Elsewhere, the band fall back into their usual groove. All-too-many mid-western groups vying for the emo throne have cribbed American Football's twinkling guitars, but here, guitarist Tom Linton reminds us that he too was sprinkling arpeggiated notes into the band's music back in the late '90s — only Jimmy Eat World figured out how to hammer those romantic tales of woe into epic anthems. "You Are Free" continues this tradition, while "Sure and Certain" and "Get Right" offer classic Jimmy rockers, both worthy additions to the band's voluminous catalogue.
The members of Jimmy Eat World no doubt lead pretty comfortable lives, giving them little reason to drastically shake up the band's sound, and their ability to continually wring good to great work out of the box they've built for themselves is always impressive. But they've given listeners a sense of what they could be if they really stepped outside of it here, and quite frankly, a little more could go a long way. (Dine Alone)