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The Get Up Kids - Kicker (Album Review)

Friday, 22 June 2018 Written by Jennifer Geddes

Photo: Dalton Paley

The Get Up Kids show their age on their new EP, ‘Kicker’, with four tracks that pull inspiration from each moment in their history.

The band’s sophomore album, ‘Something to Write Home About’, is canonical in the history of emo. Released in 1999 and sitting somewhere between the Promise Ring and Jimmy Eat World, it managed to find the sweet spot that provided a link between the genre’s hardcore past and its pop future.

The opening track here, Maybe, is reminiscent of those early days. It features catchy melodies and enough grit to rock out to, coming close to encapsulating the band’s signature style.

Matt Pryor’s slacker vocals and emotional lyrics hit home, and while he is a man in his 40s you can still taste the same bitterness in his words as a broken-hearted 20-year-old. “Shout out the enemy,” he sings. “Standing next to me. Trying the little patience. Left in the reserves.”

Better This Way follows a similar pattern, complete with the group vocals and woahs that were emo hallmarks for a while. Pryor has a knack for making the listener feel like part of the gang, and that still rings true. “If you need me I’ll be here,” he sings. “But if you want to disappear. It would be wrong to say ‘guess some things are better this way’.”

After splitting in 2005, the band reformed older and wiser a few years later. They attempted to broaden their horizons with the more experimental ‘There Are Rules’ in 2011, bringing in sounds and structures that took them away from their melodic roots. My Own Reflection reflects this period, with a keyboard melody that sounds like something between a melodica and bagpipes. There is just enough oddness to add a new edge, while also not being alienating.

These tracks deal with emo themes in a more adult way, none more so than I’m Sorry. “Nothing lasts forever,” guitarist Jim Suptic sings. “Why does it have to hurt so bad, when you’re holding on to something you never really had?” He doesn’t shy away from the pain, but neither does he revel in it.

‘Kicker’ manages to be both nostalgic and contemporary, as the Get Up Kids recapture what made them great without attempting to rest on former glories. Even the format itself is quite forward-thinking. Many associate EPs with bands just starting their career, not veterans, but they know now how fickle the record business can be, and releasing a record means touring. This feels like toe back in the water, and if you can play a bunch of songs to an excited crowd that’s really all that matters. Wisdom may come with age but it doesn’t mean you have let go of everything that you loved when you were young.

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