When I was at uni, I went home with a boy and slept, fully clothed, on top of the covers of his bed. We’d hung out in a park next to a big, murky pond, on the grounds of a prestigious uni that neither of us went to. He’d tried to kiss me and missed. We were hammered. He’d had a girlfriend and I’d had a boyfriend. The next morning I went home, confused, my heart red raw, and I listened to Night Drive by Jimmy Eat World on repeat.
When I was in year eight, my friend Michelle burned Jimmy Eat World’s third album, Bleed American, for me. It was on rotation on Channel V at the time, and she was the only one who owned a cd burner. We traded assignments for mixed cds. Bleed American had hit with the single, Bleed American, and followed up with The Middle which had a video of house party guests stripping down to their underwear.
I got chicken pox, and got really sick, and played Bleed American on repeat, waking up at numerous times during the night to the intrepid intro to Get It Faster which sounds creepy and foreboding in the dark. And I lost my heart completely to A Praise Chorus: “I wanna fall in love tonight” was a wish I had until it finally happened, five years later, and I’d been primed.
Jimmy Eat World played with Green Day and My Chemical Romance in 2005, two nights before the HSC results came out and I thought my future would be decided. It must have been post-Futures. They played at the Cricket Ground or the Football Stadium. We stood really far back, and someone near me said, “He (Jim Adkins, the singer) looks like Ace Ventura!”
I stopped listening, for a while. Then I started postgrad and illegally downloaded that which I’d missed: Chase This Light. Things were starting to get the best of me and I loved the hell out of the line, “Gotta love how it’s somehow all on me.” I was confused. I lent on Night Drive, hard. On repeat.
I fell into a black hole. My light went out.
I started buying cds with the money I was making from my entry level job. I purchased Chase This Light: a disc of fluoro green. I slowly started coming back to life. I started seeing bands again. Chase This Light made me feel light. It made me want a tattoo of those words, because now I was out of the darkness, I wanted a reminder to keep running, always, with my face turned to the sun.
Invented came out and my brother bought me a ticket to the Jimmy Eat World concert for my birthday. At the concert they played Goodbye Sky Harbour and it lasted its full sixteen minutes. After the concert they tweeted that they were at Harry’s Cafe De Wheels and we took a stab at them being at the Tempe one, running as fast as we could to the end of my cousin’s street. They were at a different location.
In 2014 the band announced a ten year anniversary tour for Futures, and by the time it reached Australia the following December, I’d made my way through the worst of the most horrendous heartbreak. It was the same night as my work Christmas party but I saw the concert – of course I did. I was coming back to life again, and they were playing Night Drive. It was the third or fourth time I’d seen them and my first time seeing that epic song.
Damage came out, and lead singer/guitarist Jim Adkins was quoted as saying it was like an ‘adult break up record’. I loved it: ‘the book of love is fiction’. ‘How’d you have me and I only got you.’ It’s bitter, right? And angry. It’s emotional.
Now, the wind is calling again, and everything is about to shift. It’s only fitting that today Integrity Blues came out, Jimmy Eat World’s ninth record.
To be honest, I was expecting it to hit tomorrow – when bands release albums they do so using American dates that tend to hit at midnight once the day is over, here. I went to a funeral today. My best stock made a price sensitive announcement. I was on a high from a Lean In circle and seeing my friends last night, but on a low from getting back late. I was talking to a boy I like. Then the band popped up with an announcement that the record was out, here, first – and I put my headphones on and swung into Spotify.
I was scared, at first, that it was going to be too much of a grower. The three songs they released in the lead up to today were near to the front; early sounds from the songs I’d not heard seemed kind of Radiohead; a little Coldplay, almost. Then: You Are Free. Next level Jimmy Eat World. “You are free, as much as you can stand to be;” there’s nothing in your way. Not a thing. “I think we’ve paid enough.”
I shared it with two of my workmates; I didn’t care what they thought.
Then: The End Is Beautiful. “It doesn’t have to hurt anymore.”
It’s a knock out punch. Back in the Clarity days, they had For Me This Is Heaven follow Just Watch The Fireworks and those are two songs that change everything. You Are Free and The End Is Beautiful are just as vital.
People have their favourites, and these could just be the ones that speak to me. Music makes me feel free. It holds my heart in suspension and replaces my pulse; it hits my core. But this record: it’s set me free.
It’s hard to fathom a complete new album to fall in love with. Eleven new songs. What a gift. I’m noticing that as I grow older, I’m more likely to accept the part I play in things; to reflect. These lyrics seem more incisive, wisened. Less hopeful, which is a shame, but more reflective of the tragedy that can be growing up than anything. ‘Is that you or is that you with me.’
You reach a point, which I guess they did just after Chase This Light, where you realise that you play a part in things, too.
I read some articles: Alternative Press; and Dan Ozzi for Vice. I started to wonder if you could join in at this late stage. Would you really get it? If you were new to Jimmy Eat World and you started with Integrity Blues, how would you experience it? Would this be your Clarity?
Everything is changing and I’m saying farewell to so much. I’m not the person that Futures kept company, that Chase This Light kept alive, that Invented inspired. I don’t have to be if I’m free.
I was thinking, as I was live tweeting my thoughts of the album, pouring emotion into the void because nobody I was physically with really got it; it’s ok if I never find love because I’ve got Jimmy Eat World. I have something transcendent.
Then they favourited my tweet.
They better never ever break up.