Whether it is intentional or by mere coincidence of flow and the creative process, Jimmy Eat World has successfully managed to stay on an every-three-year album cycle and I’ve been finding a lot of comfort in this. The new singles from the forthcoming “Integrity Blues” make for full and brooding listens, with trademark booming or shimmering JEW guitar parts and melodic, melancholic choruses. But their reappearance means I’ll inevitably dive into their back catalog, and I can see how much a difference three years can make.
When “Damage” came out in the fall of 2013, I was in transition, and probably more than a little lost about my direction in life and what I wanted. The songs had a deeply personal nature about love and loss and acceptance that I needed at the time. Three years before that, when “Invented” came out, I was finding my footing, and piece by piece letting myself settle into the world. Some of the those tracks made me remember the importance of presence, and gratitude – like “Movielike” and the title track.
“Chase This Light” back in 2007 caught me at the height of undergrad worries and flurries and passion and pride, and I’ve found I didn’t quite appreciate all that album had to offer the way that I do on this side of the real world. It’s offers positive reinforcement of the self’s authentic direction that at the time, I didn’t know how to grasp. Taking it back to “Futures,” in high school, I was flooded by the romance, nostalgia and promise of the thing, and it was the record that made me call Jimmy Eat World a favorite band, as their new release gave me fresh associations to make instead of just glomming onto their (brilliant and timeless) past work.
Now here we are, nearing the final quarter of a year that has a long list of excellent full-lengths from established artists (Brian Fallon, Kanye, Radiohead, Deftones) and newcomers (The Hotelier, Carseat Headrest, Moose Blood, Pinegrove). I’m pretty sure that Jimmy Eat World will make their way into my top 10 if not higher, though if only because they’re one of the most persistent, reliable rock bands of our generation. These guys can pack big theaters or deliver meaningful little acoustic sets, head onto children’s television or stay underground for months at a time, and there will be listeners like me somewhere, devoted to their entire catalog. And with each release, they keep channeling these big, profound life lessons into lyrics, which often cut to the heart of some of the toughest questions about getting old: how to hang onto success, love, and yourself, how to appreciate the world around you, how to let the past go, and let the future preside.
The growth and maturity of Jimmy Eat World in their music and their narratives has coupled with my own, and that relationship between musician and listener is an irreplaceable, unbreakable comfort.
“What you do works for a time
Until you drop without a warning sign
If you keep going on like this
I’ll be one more thing for you to miss
Sure and certain
Wander ’til we’re old
Lost and lurking
Wonder ’til we’re cold.”
~Sure and Certain
Jimmy Eat World, Integrity Blues