Calling their tenth studio album ‘Surviving’ is more than just a meta-joke about being a group of thirty-somethings still alive and kicking in the alternative scene.
In fact, Jimmy Eat World‘s newest effort is far from willing to just skim the surface, continuing along with a trait of consistency that Jim Adkins and his band have achieved for around twenty-five years now.
‘Surviving’ follows up 2016’s ‘Integrity Blues’ by transitioning through a selection of arena rock that adds to their already stacked collection. It’s a record that somewhat casts a look back at the same time as sticking its feet firmly on the ground of the present, trading the former album’s adventurous character for a return to a heavier, guitar-clad sound.
Undoubtedly with that, some tracks are destined to be compared to those found on 2001’s ‘Bleed American’, but it’s not without its just merits, and moments like the fizzing ‘Criminal Energy’, or the delightful choruses of ‘Diamond’ and ‘One Mil’ feel fitting on the band’s earlier works.
As a whole package, ‘Surviving’ feels a very complete project – ten tracks that filter through what can only be described as a trademark Jimmy Eat World sound. Much of that is thanks to the stellar production of Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who’s previously worked with M83, Paramore, and Beck to name a few – as well as on ‘Integrity Blues’. He’s integral to the group’s relived heavier tone and provides a generally glossy coat over a solid bed of tracks, which is slightly funny considering some parts of the record were captured on Adkins‘ iPhone in his garage.
‘555’ changes the rock-heavy pace with a dreamier, hand-clapping, light-synth mood that feels slightly standalone, but it’s Adkins‘ vocal hook in the chorus that retains the charm. One of the record’s biggest triumphs comes in one that’s probably its cheesiest in ‘All The Way (Stay)’ – a track bursting with energy, so much so that it erupts with a colossal saxophone solo at its peak. Jazzy and ambitious, even with such a new texture it feels like textbook, feel-good Jimmy Eat World.
On reflection, that feel-good factor speaks for almost all of ‘Surviving’ – it’s an entertaining listen for fans old and new.
Jimmy Eat World are emo heroes for a reason: they’ve spent twenty-five years creating emotion driven moments like these, and from the title-track opener to the cascading concluder ‘Congratulations’, ‘Surviving’ is proof that they’re still very much worth their salt.