The Get Up Kids - There Are Rules (Cover Artwork)

The Get Up Kids

There Are Rules (2011)

Quality Hill

The first full-length album in seven years from Lawrence, Kan. native sons the Get Up Kids starts off with the rollicking "Tithe", perhaps the most exciting promise-of-what's-to-come album opener this side of New Found Glory's "Intro" from their Catalyst album. Unfortunately, this type of energy is only reprised sparsely over the 11 songs that follow it. This collection of songs is far from the controlled bursts of guitar, keys and angst found in seminal recordings like Something to Write Home About or the near-perfect Red Letter Day EP. In fact, there isn't much of the Get Up Kids' history that There Are Rules is comparable to at all (Guilt Show's "Is There a Way Out" may be the closest). But that in and of itself is a testament that this isn't a phoned-in reunion. It's refreshing to see a reunited band still take chances and resist the temptation to simply ape what's worked for them in the past.

Continuing where last year's Simple Science EP left off, the Get Up Kids take a darker, moodier direction. The newest trick in the arsenal seems to be creating a bed of fuzzy, distorted bass, rock-solid drums and murky keyboards upon which the guitar sounds, vocals and other effects sit. Lots of echo and chorus-pedal style effects are present through the majority of the multi-layered guitar work, and similarly, Matt Pryor's voice is distorted on most songs.

"Shatter Your Lungs" is so seemingly out of character that when I originally heard it, outside of the context of the album, I didn't even think I was listening to the Get Up Kids at all until Matt Pryor's distorted but nonetheless recognizable voice chimed in. Another standout, the dark "Rally 'Round the Fool" sounds as if it would be at home on Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's recent score for The Social Network, save for the vocals.

Speaking of vocals, Jim Suptic has a higher lead vocal ratio than on previous outings (his previous average hovering between one and zero songs per record). The Suptic-led "Automatic" is easily the most straightforward pop-rock song on the record, and as such, almost seems out of place amid the darker tone of There Are Rules.

Previously-released track "Keith Case" makes a return on the album, though, sadly for people like me to who love to pick up on the changes and nuances of a re-recording (only to usually prefer the original recording, but I digress), it's the exact same recording as appears on 2010's Simple Science EP, but remains an album highlight.

TL;DR: Overall, There Are Rules implements many different sounds, layers and textures to produce a much more somber, mid-tempo and at times eerie atmosphere than previous efforts. It doesn't sound much like the tGUK of yore, but that's a good thing.