Alright, this is a hard album to write about. I am a huge fan of The Get Up Kids. Shit, I am wearing one of their t-shirts right now. Four Minute Mile, Something To Write Home About, and On A Wire are still getting a lot of plays. Sadly, this record does not have great replay value.
There Are Rules is the first full length for this band since they released Guilt Show in 2004. They then broke up in 2005. That record was a mixed bag at best. This is true for the latest. It starts off strong, the first two songs are a little synth heavy, but generally pop/rock songs that the band is known for. “Tithe” being the album opener would have set a great tone for the record. “Regent’s Court” followed up in a similar style. The latter was constantly getting dogged for sounding like a Strokes’ song. Not being well versed in that band’s catalog, I can not say if it is true or not. Sadly, save for the closer, the rest of this album is new wave synths, subdued guitars, but the occasional big chorus. I can get behind a band trying new things. But, did the world need another record like this? In a world where synth heavy post-punk and indie are the genres du jour, this fails to rise above the rest of that saturated market. And then, the album cover looks like a simplified version of a Big D & The Kids Table record.
James Dewees showed that he is more than capable of making textured, and in some cases eerie, music. His work on the keyboard and synthesizer are primarily what drives this record. As far as creating atmosphere, good on him. This is especially noticeable on “Rally ‘Round The Fool,” which is the longest track on the record. It clocks in at just a little over five minutes. The vocals sound fine, but both Matt Pryor and Jim Suptic are constantly singing with distortion on their vocals. In tone, they still sound like the same guys who recorded the classic songs in their back catalog, but a little too processed. The Pope brothers are the MVPs of this release. With as much experimentation and faux-art happening, they keep the rhythm section tight and in line.
It would have been a good record if it was released by a different band, but it is a bad record for The Get Up Kids. Their song writing strengths struggle to shine through. As does their ability to make excellent pop songs. More or less, they took the more experimental songs from the Simple Science EP, and just ran with them. They even include a song from it on here. Even then, it is the exact same version of Keith Case that appeared on the EP. Cutting and pasting songs like that will never not annoy me.
Overall, it sounds like The Get Up Kids playing Joy Division songs. It is a combination I should enjoy, but not really what I wanted. But, reunion records are always a little touch and go, right?