For most bands, doing a reunion tour isn't so daunting task -- get the bandmates together, run through a few of the old songs, and before you know it, momentum and muscle memory take over and they sound something like they did back in the day. It's when said reunited band heads into the recording studio that things get tricky; writing and recording new stuff that stands up to the standards of your established canon is rarely simple, especially while you're trying to move past the reasons you called it quits. A mere five years after breaking up, the Get Up Kids ended up reuniting to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their landmark sophomore album Something to Write Home About, and the shows went well enough that the band began writing new songs and decided to make a new album.
Let's get it out of the way. For a few people, emo isn't a dirty word. Not the goth-lite emo of Daily Mail readers' nightmares, but the 'original' emo, the one that instead used to bother the less mainstream readers of Maximum Rock and Roll. At the end of the Nineties they hated emo. And why not ….
The Get Up Kids engage in a holding pattern for exactly two songs on There Are Rules, the emo-punk icons' first full-length album since 2004's supposed swan song, Guilt Show. The rest of the album's 10 tracks are then spent rendering every label you would usually apply to the recently reunited band unrecognizable. Yes, believe it or not, the Get Up Kids have produced the first truly surprising album of 2011.
Perhaps no band has gone further to disassociate itself from emo than the Get Up Kids, which shouldn't be a huge surprise: Their brand of pining pop-punk, which became the predominant sound of early-2000s alternative rock, was probably more despised by punk and indie kids than any other chart-toppers at the time-- post-Disney pop, nu-metal, big beat electronica. No one got it worse than the Get Up Kids, attacked with the vigor of a scene that finally got to pick on someone its own size. Existing somewhere between the Promise Ring and Jimmy Eat World-- but lacking the former's jittery roots and the latter's obvious pop ambitions-- they once worked with Bob Weston (Mission of Burma, Shellac) and chose not to leave Vagrant, and yet somehow an air of dishonesty was projected on them.
Nothing quite prepares the listener for the insipid snooze-a-thon... Unfortunately, whatever rules The Get Up Kids are referring to with their first full-length release in seven years, they appear to have ignored perhaps the most important of all: play to your strengths. Suffice to say, the once-beloved Kansas City quintet are not Radiohead, and whilst they may have left their pioneering, emo-infused pop-punk behind over a decade ago, nothing quite prepares the listener for the insipid snooze-a-thon they’ve concocted here.
Sometimes you can’t write home again. A few months ago I found myself re-listening to Something to Write Home About in the car and was transported instantly to an alternate youthful plane of zealous idealism, overthought storybook romance and the pregnant possibilities of guys who can’t quite sing playing guitar like their life depended on it. Years and several waves of alt rock fashion later, the Get Up Kids’ opus holds up well and still mostly lives up to its title.
It would be unfair for us to expect the Get Up Kids to sound the same now as they did 10-plus years ago, when they put out their career-defining Something to Write Home About. After that record, but before the band went on hiatus in 2004, they had worked their sound into a more direct pop aesthetic, from the gentler tones of On a Wire to the straight power-pop of Guilt Show. But even those albums seem far away now, and if there’s one thing to admire about their “reunion” record, There Are Rules, it’s that they threw out the playbook.
The Get Up Kids - There Are Rules Get Up Kids play the Phoenix March 8. See listing. Rating: NN. On their fifth album, the Get Up Kids sound like a band who resent what made them popular in the first place. Fine, being credited with pioneering emo isn't going to get you tons of respect. But their ….
A fixture of the pop-punk and emo scenes long before either of those terms had taken on pejorative implications, Kansas City’s the Get Up Kids disbanded in 2005, only to reunite early last year to commemorate the 10th anniversary of their breakthrough album, Something to Write Home About. On their first album of new material since their breakup, the band is faced with the task of attempting to find their place in the current market without alienating their devoted core fanbase. There Are Rules, unfortunately, finds the Get Up Kids somewhat confused as to how to meet that challenge.