Imagine if the kids that got made fun of on the back of the bus ended up being the coolest ones in the school. Not through any kind of terrorist revenge fantasy or post-apocalyptic last-people-alive-on-Earth scenario, but what if they were actually the most interesting, most sincere, most talented kids around? That is exactly the impression given by the Get up Kids on their 1999 album Something to Write Home About. That although they are struggling with stumbling relationships and the pervasive frustrations of being young men in their generation, they still are able to process the complexities of their daily lives through music. This is a heavy statement concerning a power pop band, but these guys are doing it right.
Rocketing out of the gates with a blast of punk bravado and true emo energy, guitarists Matthew Pryor and Jim Suptic sing as if the more forcefully they belt it out, the sooner their dilemmas will be solved. Incorporating Fender Rhoades electric piano and Moog synthesizers (played sparingly by James Dewees) adds an element that Weezer introduced to smart post-punk bands, allowing the sound to be cool and geeky at the same time. The cross-town traffic ballad "Ten Minutes" is a stuttering ode where the singer's girlfriend lives, hoping for understanding but expecting an argument. The sincere combination of excitement and concern in Suptic's voice gives the listener a genuine feeling for the situation. Shifts in tempo and punchy guitar riffs separate the Get up Kids from their emo contemporaries who often seem too comfortable with their guitar-bass-drums formula. The pleading acoustic "Out of Reach" showcases the bright harmonies and raw emotion of the band as it builds into a piano-driven, swaying lost love torch song, quite unusual for the genre. "I'm down for whatever," Pryor sings on "Action & Action," and it is that kind of apathetic optimism that makes Something to Write Home About worthy of the critical praise and dedicated fanbase it has earned.