The Get Up Kids

There Are Rules

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For most bands, doing a reunion tour isn't so daunting task -- get the bandmates together, run through a few of the old songs, and before you know it, momentum and muscle memory take over and they sound something like they did back in the day. It's when said reunited band heads into the recording studio that things get tricky; writing and recording new stuff that stands up to the standards of your established canon is rarely simple, especially while you're trying to move past the reasons you called it quits. A mere five years after breaking up, the Get Up Kids ended up reuniting to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their landmark sophomore album Something to Write Home About, and the shows went well enough that the band began writing new songs and decided to make a new album. Thankfully, on There Are Rules, the Get Up Kids beat the odds and deliver an album that lives up to their legend -- if they haven't come up with another touchstone like Something to Write Home About that recalls the glory days before emo became an insult -- they still sound like a smart, focused, wiry rock band whose attack is noticeably harder and more aggressive than on 2004's Guilt Show. James Dewees' keyboards play a bigger role in the arrangements on There Are Rules than they usually did in the past, but his clean, often jagged electronic tones resonate with Matthew Pryor and Jim Suptic's guitars, and with the addition of the admirably tight rhythm section of bassist Robert Pope and drummer Ryan Pope, it coheres into music that urges the GUKs' sound into a place that's very much their own, and doesn't simply rehash what they've done in the past. Lyrically, Pryor still seems to be wavering back and forth between rage and angst, but he sounds like a more mature, riled-up version of the guy from his earlier work, which is to say these songs show the same balance of consistency and adventure as the performances. And the production by frequent studio partner Ed Rose adds washes of electronic atmosphere without blurring the group's forward momentum. On There Are Rules, the Get Up Kids never sound like they're trying to relearn how to do what they do: they manage the deceptively difficult trick of evolving without turning into something else, and they've made a powerful, engaging album that's worthy of their legacy.

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