Album Review: The Get Up Kids - 'Problems'

20 May 2019 | 9:09 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

A solid new LP from the Kansas natives.

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Emo and pop-punk pioneers, The Get Up Kids just recently released 'Problems', their long-awaited follow-up to 2011’s 'There Are Rules'. Yet the eight long years between drinks hasn't at all stalled the band's musical abilities. As catchy opening track, 'Satellite', so confidently displays: an upbeat pace with the hooky choruses we expect from The Get Up Kids, all with subtle keyboard flourishes courtesy of James Dewees. It's the kind of first-off-the-rank song that makes you realise age hasn't withered the song-writing talents of the Kansas City outfit.

From there, 'The Problem is Me' arrives in a much lower tempo affair, with vocalist Matt Pryor lamenting to the listener that “I’m working hard not to throw you under the bus”, whilst next track 'Salina' features an awesome distorted bass line throughout what is a real slow-jam hit. 'Now or Never' pulls the album right back up to a more familiar, faster pace with guitarist Jim Suptic taking over vocal duties. With perhaps tongue a little in cheek, 'Lou Barlow' sees Pryor lyrically telling listeners about the time he ran into Dinosaur Jr. bassist, Mr Lou Barlow himself, on the street one day. Y'know, as one so often does.

Never above a great sing-along, the band belts out “Fairweather friends will say all the good days just fade away” during the chorus of 'Fairweather Friends', which also features a ripping guitar solo from the skilled hands of Suptic. 'Common Ground' finds Dewees’ keys placed at the forefront of this sluggish, nostalgic and rather sad moment in time for the record. A song that's then heavily contrasted by 'Waking Up Alone', where his zorby synth work heavily dominates the verses and Suptic’s killer chorus hook of “no it never gets easier, waking up alone”. It wouldn't be a Get Up Kids record without either of these facets of the band's sound, that's for sure, and the band know how to please.

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'The Advocate' once again sees heavy usage of dramatic keys early on before the rest of the band kicks in and Pryor resumes hos regular vocal duties. 'Symphony of Silence' sees Suptic once more step up to the microphone to command yet another classic TGUK tune, full of big guitars and big vocal melodies. 'Brakelines' is a short yet jovial emo-rock tune defined by the strong, extensive bass work of Rob Pope and a vibrant timbre that's damned hard to ignore; lovingly sounding like the band's earlier work in the process. Ending on a real high-note, haunting album closer 'Your Ghost Is Gone' is a significantly slower and more dynamic affair, marked by a lovely piano refrain from Dewees, with a well-timed instrumental kick-in from the band two thirds through, making for one of the most arresting and dynamic sections found on 'Problems'. Perhaps even it's greatest part, too.

'Problems' is pretty much what any fan would come to expect from The Get Up Kids by now. However, that's by no means a bad thing. The latest effort from the Kansas City emo natives contains something for every casual and die-hard fan with their sixth album: fast songs, slow songs, sad songs and more all abound on 'Problems'. Twenty years ago, their second LP, 'Something To Write Home About' released and became a classic throw-back for pop-punk and emo to come. Now in 2019, and while not quite a modern day opus that'll be as fondly remembered in two decades time, The Get Up Kids maintain their importance and legacy with yet another solid full-length.

  1. Satellites
  2. The Problem Is Me
  3. Salina
  4. Now Or Never
  5. Lou Barlow
  6. Fairweather Friends
  7. Common Ground
  8. Waking Up Alone
  9. The Advocate
  10. Symphony Of Silence
  11. Brakelines
  12. Your Ghost Is Gone

'Problems' is out now.