Friday, January 28, 2011

The Get Up Kids - 'There Are Rules'

You would have been 24 Sunday. In one of those weird cosmic twists that I can’t easily dismiss, your favorite band The Get Up Kids released their first full-length in seven years, There Are Rules, just two days later. I’m not sure where you would have stood on it, but I would have loved arguing the details with you. Deep down, I think you would have dumped on the album because it doesn’t sound like TGUK’s first two records. It’s less emo. But it’s still within your stylistic palette. You would have claimed it was disappointing, but you would know all the words anyway.

Personally, I like it. There Are Rules picks up where TGUK should have gone after On a Wire broke ties with emo for something more expansive and mature. Guilt Show, from 2004, was a creative misstep, opting to appease fans wishing for more of the sugary pop-punk of Something to Write Home About, but even that hinted at Rules with songs like “Is There a Way Out?”. “Lion and The Lamb,” from Rock Against Bush Volume 1, is also in line with these songs.

Rules marks the Kids’ transition into indie-dom. Four Minute Mile was steeped in Superchunk, making the band’s emo reign something of a detour. Here, the band turns up the bass and keys with help from Ed Rose and Bob Weston, resulting in something more dissonant and heavy. Certain hallmarks remain – Matt Pryor’s voice is always going to be at least a little nasal – but overall this record marks a new phase in the group’s career.

You would point out the lack of singles, though. It’s true, Rules is better as an album than as individual songs. Compared to their first three records, then, I suppose that’s underwhelming. But the album creates a mood and sustains it. Sure, I wish there were more sing-alongs, and I’m not sure how these new tunes will mix with the band’s catalogue live. But the record has menace and grit, two things not normally associated with the Kids.

Rules expands on the promise of Simple Science wonderfully. Let’s be honest: We both would have been glad to see The Get Up Kids return. And this is the first time in a while that I can listen to them without feeling guilty or angry. Mostly, though, I just wish you could give it a listen.

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