There Are Rules
The Get Up Kids
Release Date: Jan 25, 11
At some point in their five-year hiatus, the Get Up Kids grew up, by decades. After renouncing the elder-statesmen-of-emo title they once held, having stuck around long enough to see what they created, they took a break to avoid a permanent creative burnout. In that time, they apparently got really into anthemic Brit-rock.
There Are Rules, the band’s fifth LP and first since 2003’s Guilt Show, sees them moving with speed away from any sound that’d typically be associated with a mid-90s Doghouse Records act and into vastly different sonic territory. Part of this could be attributed to keyboardist James Dewees’ side project Reggie & The Full Effect; opening track “Tithe” and numerous other cuts owe a debt to the dark, aggressive synth-rock he worked with for years. At times Rules also draws comparison to another seminal 90s emo act, Alkaline Trio, in that both bands evolved into more refined compositions over time. However, Get Up have done it far more naturally.
They also got really into Muse, apparently, and that’s not meant as a pejorative statement. “Keith Case” and “The Widow Paris” move into the territory of dark synths and rattling bass; the latter, particularly, builds to an absolutely frenzied climax. Even at their best the Kids’ old records couldn’t really be considered anthemic, but such are things; we’re a long way from Four Minute Mile. This new sound doesn’t always work, though. On “Rally ‘Round The Fool,” they begin with a sound that comes off like a splice of M83 and Daft Punk’s recent work on the Tron: Legacy soundtrack, only to slowly slide away into an overproduced, jarring drone.
That overproduction is actually a frequent and significant problem with Rules. Matt Pryor’s vocals get lost on a strong majority of the songs. Whether that’s a small mercy remains to be seen, as the nursery rhyming wordplay on “Automatic” (“she’s so dramatic/say what you will, so automatic”) doesn’t exactly make one optimistic. However, the wall-of-sound production works on cuts like “When It Dies” or “Pararelevant,” the latter a soaring piece of revisionist emo that wouldn’t have felt out of place on a John Hughes soundtrack at one time.
It’s too early to call whether this new sonic expansion will hold up for the Kids, as this is the kind of bounding leap forward that can devolve into bombast with ease. As a cohesive whole Rules isn’t quite enough to sustain itself, but there’s enough promise here to maintain a steady interest. It’s still strange to hear them sound more like The Killers or Muse than a former Vagrant Records band, but if they can keep writing songs like “Rememorable,” the perfect merger of old and new, they might just survive. Even they know what they’re up against, though, as acknowledged in that closing track: “We’re in for a long haul.” Welcome back, gentlemen.
Dont forget, Heave readers can win a copy of There Are Rules and Simple Science EP simply by RSVPing on our Do312 page. Two simple clicks enters you into the contest. One winner will be chosen at random on Friday, January 28. Good luck!