REVIEW: The Get Up Kids – "There Are Rules"

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?

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REVIEW: The Get Up Kids – "Simple Science"

I am a pretty big fan of The Get Up Kids. When they broke up in 2005, I was totally not stoked about it. I had never gotten a chance to see them live. In 2008, they announced their reunion and I was fucking excited.

It was just going to be some reunion shows. Then they announced that they were start working on new material. October 2009 rolled around, and the first of their new songs was initially released on Daytrotter. It was the song “Your Petty, Pretty Things.” Now, no, it was not an epic return to Four Minute Mile or Something To Write Home About. It was, however, a great fucking track. It would not have sounded out of place on Guilt Show.

So, in November 2009, I finally got to see them live. They played at The Metro in Chicago, and it was a great set. It was enough to tide me over, but I was still waiting for their new shit. April 2010 rolled around, and the new record finally came out. I did not actually get it until May, because Interpunk apparently does not understand how pre-orders work. Either way, it was 4 new songs. Fuck yes. Did it live up to the hype I had built up around it? Well, yes and no.

“Your Petty, Pretty Things” showed up here. It was a lot cleaner sounding than their Daytrotter session version. It was your average mid tempo pop rock song. Not the return to midwestern emo I was hoping for, but generally great. This is basically what the other songs sounded like. Mid-tempo, catchy, you know the drill. “Tommy Gentle” kicked in with the killer vocal harmonies you expect with this band. “Keith Case” was a heavily distorted, almost droney, type song. But, everything I loved about the band was their. The vocal harmonies, the catchy pop hooks. There was no way I would not love this goddamn EP.

That said, there were some things that bugged me. I was expecting something more in line with Guilt Show. This was not really met. These songs are more experimental. James Dewees definitely did more with the keyboard and synth sounds on this record. Generally it sounded great, but the closing song “How You’re Bound” suffers because the damn synth is so high in the mix. That coupled with it being a 6 minute song made it stand out, but not for the best of reasons.

Long story short, it is a solid EP. If’n you were a fan before, you will be able to get down to this. It is not going to bring them any new fans. But, I do not think that was the point. I will give it a 3.5 out of 5. Totally enjoyable, but not something that will be in heavy rotation. Still one of my favourite releases of the year. And, man, when they drop their new full length this winter, I will be right there to buy it.

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