The Get Up Kids


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The Get Up Kids' first full LP since they decided to get back together follows the same general template as the Kicker EP they issued in 2018. They decided to jump back into the angsty, noisy, energized sound they had in their prime, pairing Matthew Pryor's pleading vocals with a powerful guitars-drums-and-keys attack that stings when it hits. The lyrical concerns are often more adult-oriented -- focusing on parenthood, nostalgia, and missed connections -- but Pryor delivers them with an impassioned, almost desperate approach that helps them feel as important as anything they ever sang about. Most of the record jabs and punches like a heavyweight on the comeback trail with tracks like "The Problem Is Me" or "Fairweather Friends" sounding like the work of a band with lots to prove and little time to do it. They charge through the verses with purpose and blast into the verses with a feverish glow that cuts through the noise of the day and forces the listener to take notice. The songs that dial down the energy still have a tightly wound emotional core that comes through in the aching vocal harmonies, the swell of the keys, guitar solos that threaten to tear up speakers, and Pryor's intimate, everyman tone. The band at its best never relied on speed or noise alone to get the point across, and songs like the lovely midtempo melancholy ballad "Salina" or the tightly wound "The Advocate" have the same kick as the faster songs and maybe a little more emotional impact. There are a couple of songs that lean more toward the mature, more subtle sound the band were exploring before they stopped recording in 2011. The arena indie of "Common Ground" works well enough, but the over-cooked piano ballad that ends the album is too much of a comedown after all the high-energy, high-impact music that precedes it. One weak-ish track isn't enough to cast a pall over an otherwise strong comeback album. Unlike Kicker, which worked as a short, sharp blast to remind people the Kids were still around, Problems is the sound of the band figuring out how they want to sound in their new incarnation and pretty much nailing it.

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