'Surviving'- Jimmy Eat World / Turned Up Louder
There are two things that are almost certainly guaranteed when Jimmy Eat World release a new album; it will be of an excellent standard, and the levels of emotion poured into it will be high. Nine albums in, and the stalwarts from Arizona have been extraordinarily consistent in their output and have inspired numerous alternative bands over the last two decades.
'Surviving' comes as album number ten, a period of the band's career where they are able to take stock of what has gone before and reflect on where the next period will take them. Their dedicated fan base predictably reacted with enthusiasm to the announcement of a new album, and the press build-up to the record has been intriguing and personal in equal measure. Frontman Jim Atkins has said spoken extensively about his history of depression and how this is an album that allowed him to confront his past demons and document these experiences in a record which looks ahead to the future in a more positive manner. In that sense, the album’s title and maze-like cover already the listener a cryptic precursor to the themes which will be explored, but still leaving a bit of a question mark in the run-up to the release date. Opening with a punky guitar intro, the title track immediately sets the tone for the album and signals that while 'Surviving' is unlikely to be a radical musical departure from the Jimmy Eat World we know and love, it nevertheless appears to transport the listener back to the days of ‘Bleed American’, which had largely disappeared from their sound in recent years. Lyrically is where the difference is more striking however, with the opening lines “Don’t hide your face, what you were before, doesn’t have to be you anymore” bringing to the fore the kinds of words espoused by Adkins in interviews prior to the album’s release. The record goes even further into this more defiant territory with ‘Criminal Energy’ which is an anthemic tribute to the kind of punk rock that inspired the band in the first place, and brings that kind of attitude along with it. While there are certainly times where Jimmy Eat World revert to the mellower and more textured approach of their most recent albums 'Damage' and 'Integrity Blues' with songs like ‘Delivery’ and ‘555’, these are fewer and further between than listeners have previously been used to. Whereas there are also songs like ‘One Mill’ (which is another definite highlight of the record) which begin softer and lull the listener into a false sense of security before amping up the guitars and the volume once again. Jimmy Eat World also throw some surprises into the mix, as we are treated to a full saxophone solo to close out ‘All The Way (Stay)’, which provides another memorable example of how Surviving is a more upbeat version of Jimmy Eat World. This sense of hopeful urgency refuses to wane as the album draws to its conclusion, with ‘Diamond’ providing a once again defiantly triumphant message and ‘Recommit’ even bringing the music into headbanging territory! Ultimately, a definitive departure from their trademark sound, this is not, and that is fundamentally a good thing. What 'Surviving' does offer however, is a specific side of Jimmy Eat World which has always been there in part, but is now brought fully to the fore. The experience of a band having had the same lineup since 1995 is evident as they are able to move away from the heavy levels of production seen on previous records and still make this stripped down approach work beautifully. As is so often the case with this band, the lyrics are pure poetry and delve deep into themes of self-improvement and value that everyone is able to relate to. As the album closes with the longer and more retrospective ‘Congratulations’, it leaves you considering the possibility that this is a new chapter in the career of Jimmy Eat World. Whether this sparks the dawn of a new era in the band’s music or not remains to be seen, but whatever the future holds, Surviving definitely stands up as one of their best releases for some time and something that may even tempt those outside of the usual fanbase.
'Surviving' is out now via The Orchard / RCA Records.
Check out the video for the album's lead single, 'All The Way (Stay)’, below:
Jimmy Eat World will be touring the US this winter in support of 'Surviving's release- dates can be found below and tickets are available here:
Surviving, The Tour Dates 2019
11/02/19 Ft. Collins, CO Washington’s
11/04/19 Wichita, KS Cotillion Ballroom
11/05/19 Lincoln, NE Bourbon Theatre
11/06/19 Madison, WI The Sylvee
11/08/19 East Moline, IL The Rust Belt
11/09/19 Bloomington, IN Bluebird Nightclub
11/10/19 Grand Rapids, MI Intersection
11/12/19 Harrisburg, PA The Capitol Room @ HMAC
11/13/19 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground Ballroom
11/15/19 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
11/16/19 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
11/18/19 Wilmington, DE The Queen (Wilmington)
11/19/19 Richmond, VA The National
11/20/19 Asheville, NC The Orange Peel
11/21/19 Athens, GA 40 Watt Club
11/22/19 Orlando, FL Florida Man Music Festival