I think everyone in my generation has heard Jimmy Eat World’s song “The Middle,” which after fifteen years is still a great song, but I don’t think people have remembered them for much else. Integrity Blues could change that. All I can say after listening to it is wow! This album can’t even begin to be compared to their previous work, but I’m going to try to anyway. Integrity Blues is raw and emotional, introspective and lyrical; from the first track “You With Me” we see a mature romance, where lead singer Jim Adkins asks “What makes our love so hard to be? / Is that you, or is that you with me?” This more adult tone reverberates throughout the album, with the song “The End Is Beautiful” being a mature break up ballad. Adkins has left behind the adolescent heartbreak of his previous works, and has grown to be a strong lyricist.
The most chilling track on the album, “Pass The Baby,” is a menacing and melancholic piece with lyrics like “You pass the baby here, / No, they won’t shoot you pass the baby here.” The slow, mechanized rhythm of the drum leads to a surprising guitar solo that shakes up the whole song and changes its tune. Acting as a kind of spiritual sequel to “The Middle”, the song “You Are Free” is earnest in its lyrics; it says that everything can be alright but only if you try and make it so. The song “Get Right” is the only one that goes hard with its sound, breaking away from the hypnotic and rhythmic instrumentals of the rest of the album. Though not as compelling as other tracks, it does not completely shatter your immersion.
Integrity Blues is a noteworthy album that is pensive but not pretentious, a reflective piece that makes us look inside ourselves and bring forth the emotions that we have been internally wrestling. Distinctly darker and more mature, the album proves to be very different from the band’s earlier works, but in the best way possible. I’m glad I gave it a chance, and I hope that others will too, especially those who rocked out to “The Middle.”