Two types of people are going to read this review: people who hate the Get Up Kids and want to see me bash them, and - well, actually, that's probably the only type of person that's reading this. It's a shame, really. The Get Up Kids have inexplicably become the whipping boys of the emo-pop explosion, taking the brunt of everyone's criticisms from Pitchfork to Buddyhead. The band has gone from meager Midwest beginnings to being the openers on national tours for Green Day and Weezer, not to mention consistently selling out their own shows across the country. These kids have worked their asses off in their brief existance and all they ever do is catch flak for it; if I were them, I'd be burnt out, too. And if I were burnt out, this would be the album I'd make.
Gone are the bouncy, playful tracks like "I'm A Loner Dottie, A Rebel" and "Don't Hate Me." Gone are the harder rockers like "10 Minutes" and "Action and Action." Gone are the sheer raw emotions of tracks like "Shorty" and "A Newfound Interest in Massachusetts." What remains? Remember that song "Company Dime," off their last album? You know, the one that just plodded along at a regular tempo, with no real energy or hook to it? That's about it.
That sounds harsh, though, and I don't mean it like that. But that is the style of the new Get Up Kids. It's obvious that Matt's time spent in the New Amsterdams between albums has affected this one greatly. Tracks like the opener "Overdue" and closer "Hannah Hold On" are both acoustic ballads that slide along. It should be noted, however, that both songs really are great, great tracks.
The band does inject some rock into their newfound formula on tracks like the energetic "Stay Gone." "Grunge Pig" also shines through on the disc, getting the same treatment that the Anniversary recently did to their sound - go classic rock on it! It works, as Grunge Pig is a thunderous 4 minute rocker with the yelled chorus of "I ask each year/ why am I here? / Begging you please / remembering / I'd rather die than be alone." It really is a high point of the album, both lyrically and musically. Unfortunately, the album takes a nosedive directly afterwards.
"High As The Moon" and "All That I Know" both come across as Beatles "influence" tunes, but both sound completely flat and uninspired, *especially* "All That I Know." This is one of 2 songs Jim takes the vocals on, and it's absolutely horrendus - the keyboards are annoying [as they are in most songs on the album where they play more than simple background chords] and Jim's lyrics are pseudo-hippy garbage. Jim's other track on the album, "Campfire Kansas," a guitar/piano duet with distorted vocals, is a complete reversal and gets a thumbs up. It's a cool little song which they'll probably never play live.
The good songs on this disc are really good, and the bad ones aren't even that bad, either, they just need some revisions. Take "The Worst Idea." The song is okay if you ditch that damn keyboard! It sounds like an old Monkees riff, with all honesty, and it's so fucking annoying. Then the modulation halfway through - ugh. Another potential winner, "Fall From Grace," is ruined by Matt Pryor's incredibly inconsistent vocals. Musically this song reminds me of REM, circa "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," but when Pryor comes in caterwauling "hannnnnng onnnnn..." about 2 steps flat, it completely ruins whatever the song had going for it.
It's cool that the Kids are tired - it's cool that they want to adapt their sound. But with this album, it's more of a complete overhaul with very little left behind. It's not so much of an evolution of the band's sound as more of "Hey guys, I like REM, let's work that in. Okay, I like the Beatles, let's work that in. Dude, what about my wife's band, the Anniversary? They're pretty good too" type thing. I'm really curious to see how the Kids' fanbase will react - the Promise Ring pulled a similar stunt this year on Wood/Water, and people seem to be sticking with them. I'm still torn on this album, though - the highs are very high, but the lows are really low - almost to the point of making me want to press the "skip" button on my CD player [which is a cardinal sin in my book]. No matter what anyone else says, though, this is the album that this band wanted to make, and whether we like it or not, it's as sincere as they can get. The question is, will we like it... or not?
Wish You Were Here
Walking On A Wire
Wish You Were Here
The Worst Idea