At the center of every album is a musical thesis. This thesis can be the driving force behind the album, a theme that interweaves songs together, or a feeling you are left with after the very last song plays. With some albums, the thesis is easy to find. On others, it is hidden and requires you to be more than a passive listener. These reviews aren’t about rating an album. Instead, it is about uncovering a musical thesis.
Like lots of people, I was introduced to Jimmy Eat World via the “Orange County” soundtrack. When I finally got my hands on “Bleed American,” I found a band who possessed a near perfect ability to sum up my angst, emotions, and desires. Next, came “Futures” which quickly took the place of my favorite album ever recorded; a sentiment I still hold to this day. Needless to say, I have followed this band for quite some time and get overly excited every time they release new material.
When I finally picked up “Integrity Blues,” this idea of wandering immediately came to my mind. By now, we’ve all heard the quote from J.R.R. Tolkien that says, “Not all those who wander are lost.” It is a beautiful quote and inspires me to keep searching. Jimmy Eat World take that very concept and put it to a song. When your done listening to the album, you are left with a simple notion; it is okay to not have everything figured out. It is okay to not know who you are at 21, 31, 41, etc. It is okay to continue working on yourself. This idea is refreshing in a world where everyone presents themselves online as people who have it all together.
The second theme that emerged for me after listening to this album is this idea of preparing for a fight that never comes. If you’ve ever been in a romantic relationship, you know life is filled with nothing fights. These are fights over simple and mundane things that tend to grow into something bigger. Sometimes in a relationship, you prepare yourself for these fights. You make checklists of your partner's wrongs and pull your boxing gloves from the closet. Then, something magical happens. The fight never comes. Of course, this is a relief, but it also raises an interesting question. Why is our default a fight? Why isn’t it peace or conciliation? I don’t have answers to these questions, but this album gave me something to think about next time I feel one of these fights bubbling underneath the surface.
Finally, this album made me think of the end. Countless artists over countless mediums have tried to tackle how this whole thing ends. For their part, Jimmy Eat World isn’t posing religious questions. Rather, they seem to be focused on legacy and being remembered for something bigger than yourself. No matter your age or position, I think this is a worthy exercise and something we should all do. When we do, I think we begin to give our current station in life more purpose and meaning. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use more of that.