This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on September 6th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.
I’m going to do a first listen thread for the upcoming Jimmy Eat World album, Integrity Blues. A couple of thoughts going in: I usually try and listen to an album three times or so before doing a first listen thread, so I kind of have an idea of what I wanna talk about on each song. But because it’s JEW, and because a lot of people have been waiting for this one, and because they’re my favorite band, I’m going to do this having only listened to the album once all the way through.
I’m clearly very bias with this band, they’re basically my favorite band ever, so you should know that as well going in … like, there’s no objective way I can listen to these guys, so I’m not going to even try.
My first over-arching impressions is that this album is very Futures-esque in a lot of ways. Layers, dark, big huge pop-rock. But it includes some Invented and CTL themes as well. I think that by and large this is what I love best from the band, and I think recording with JMJ was a fantastic choice. That big huge sound just works so well with this band and on these songs they really sound big, polished, and it’s almost a complete 180 from Damage in how it sounds.
As always, I reserve the right to change my mind at another time, and this isn’t really a “review” as much as it is me going through and listening to an album and just writing down my thoughts on it while it plays.
You With me
12:18pmI knew something was special the moment I hit play … and you get this little twinkling guitar sound and it starts to vibrate. It’s clear, the production’s crisp, the sound reverberates outward. And then you get this huge Beach Boys vocal harmony that opens the album. Very JMJ. Very, very cool. Just a fantastic way to open an album.
Then the guitar starts to strum, the drum/beat starts phasing in and out, and we have almost a full minute before the vocals start.
12:21pmGod damn. That was my first impression on this one. Layered vocals, huge pop sound, with Jim doing all my favorite vocal things — where he goes deep and then right back into his upper register.
“What makes our love so hard to be, is it you or is that you with me?”
12:22pmThere’s something about JEW openers that just set the mood so right for the album. This has a big Bleed/Futures like feel to it for me, it’s got this little bit of a light vibe, because it feels airy, with huge vocal harmonies and the lead guitar.
I truly don’t think I can describe the smile this puts on my face. When a band that has released so many of your favorite albums and yet they can still surprise you. That they can still knock you on your ass. That they still can move you.
This song is just really fucking good.
I caught this lyric both times: “Expecting different outcomes with a better question.”
Sure and Certain
12:27pmI made it a point to only listen to this twice after it came out so I wouldn’t over play it. It fits really well as the second track. I still really like this one. That big drum sound is definitely in a lot of these songs, it’s a really good indication of how the production sounds on this one. Big, clean, huge, with these little flourishes.
12:30pmThat chorus still really sticks out to me. I feel like these guys are just, constantly, at the top of their game.
This album gives me the same feel I got when I first heard CTL. A feeling of just being amazed at how good they are at what they do. I know a lot of people really wanted Futures part 2 back then, and finally have come around on that album, and I’m really curious what people are going to think of this one. It feels so familiar and different at the same time.
12:31pmSlower. It has this mid-tempo beat, big keys.
“When you pull away, I’ll say, it matters.”
12:32pmI really like this song. It’s got this big bass line that propels it. It’s one of their classic mid-tempo sounding songs that lets Jim’s voice really shine through and have the lyrics hit.
I am not sure how this album is going to hold up in time, cause, well, literally my second time through. But I will say that my first impression of it is as positive of a first listen I can remember in quite a while.
12:42pmI got a huge Stay On My Side vibe when this one started. It has that kinda grungy, dark, “Somebody’s Blues,” like sound to it.
12:43pm”Sometimes the right one finds us, who cares why they do …” — I can’t make out the last part of that lyric, but it’s a really cool chorus.
So many layers going on, I missed this from these guys. I missed this just massive sound surrounding everything.
Pass The Baby
12:46pmThat title. Haha.
Electronic beat that is making the subwoofer wobble. This one again gives me a little SOMST vibes, because it’s got this dark, driving feel to it.
12:48pmI am going to need to spend some time trying to figure out these lyrics.
The line with the song title is, by the way, “you pass the baby here, and they won’t shoot, you pass the baby here.”
12:50pmThis is going to be a polarizing song, like “Blues” was on CTL, it’s got a vibe like that … but I fucking love it.
12:52pmBig instrumental mid-section. It builds, builds, lots of layers, lots of sounds, lots of elements all colliding together. Slow, slow, slow, and then it starts getting muddy … and then it explodes into that riff from the first video.
Last minute or so of the song is just all instrumental, rocking out, getting louder, and louder.
12:57pmI’ve liked this one from the very start. Almost gives me a “Pain” feel to it. That little yelp right before the chorus makes me happy.
Still really like that bridge. I’m glad I didn’t over play this one.
You Are Free
1:01pmThat drum sound at the beginning reminds me of Clarity. Haha, I missed that.
“You are free, to be who you want, what you need, who you want, what you need, baby, you are free.”
1:03pmThis has an Invented like structure, the way Jim sings that is, his vocal pattern reminds me of that album. But, the keys, and layered drum sound, really does remind me of Clarity.
The End is Beautiful
1:06pmDamn. This is the kinda song that just annoys you how good they are at getting an emotional response.
Ugh. This is one of those songs that makes you start thinking back on your life and relationships and the people no longer in it … and … damn you Jim. I think this is what he said:
Got a picture of the look when I knew that I lost you, and I know when you feel trapped you do what you have to, you see the problem was us, we tried to bend love to the picture we had in our heads, woah, that’s not nothing, there it is, and it won’t kill us breathing it in …. it doesn’t have to hurt anymore.
1:12pmThis’ll be one of the fan favorites from the album I think.
And also the song that Hannah’s gonna hear me listening to and call me super emo when the last part is just Jim wailing “it doesn’t have to hurt anymore” over and over again.
1:13pmI love the production on this album. Truly an inspired choice to go with Justin Meldal-Johnsen — it really does bring me back to when I heard Futures the first time and I was just thinking about how big that album sounds. How massive each song gets. It builds, and layers, and just has this huge quality to it.
1:14pmI think that in my two listens this is my least favorite, but with the caveat that I think it’s going to grow on me. It’s got some really great parts, but it wasn’t like an instant love like a lot of others here. A little more “rock” sound. Reminds me a little of something on BA, and I can’t put my finger on it though.
I do like the line, “there’s a big big difference between letting go and running away.”
1:18pmHoly shit. Kinda reminds me of “Beautiful Is…” at the start.
Jim sounds fantastic.
1:19pmJust massive spacey, orchestral, harmonic goodness.
The song feels almost like an interlude.
1:23pmThe kinda song that reminds me why I love this band as much as I do. I don’t know how much I wanna say about a 7 minute long Jimmy Eat World closer. But … I get almost a DCFC vibe with this one. It’s really good.
1:33pmI can’t wait to listen again. I’ll try and interject some more thoughts throughout the day, because this isn’t going to be leaving my rotation for a very long time. Gonna be heard to listen to other music when I really am going to want to over play the shit out of this. It was easily my most anticipated of the year, and now that it’s here, I feel like on the first two listens it absolutely lived up to expectations. I am going to need a lot more time with it to be able to really get a feel for the album and see what I like or don’t like with more clarity, but this is as good of a first impression I’ve head with an album in a long time.
I’d say that the album has a really big vibe to it. It harkens more back to Futures/CTL in that sort of production-sound, and the songs are a mixture of everything they’ve done. Some good rock, some good emotion, some good slow songs, and some catchy choruses. It’s going to get massive amounts of play from me over the next 4 months, it’s got a great shot at being high on my EOTY list, and it is a very welcome entry into one of the best catalogs in music.
Very pleased. Very happy.