When the Get Up Kids released the genre-defining album Something to Write Home About in 1999, emo was not yet the scarlet label it would soon become. Legions of young fans found themselves willingly charmed by the band’s propulsive, heart-on-your-forehead brand of rock ‘n’ roll. When the Kids decided to grow up and stretch out during the Aughts, their profile cooled and the band split up amicably in 2005. Their break would last less time than the average gap between U2 albums. Following a ten-year victory lap for Something, the band has returned to full active duty with the self-released Simple Science EP.
As on prior releases, the Get Up Kids come to the party with a truckload of crafty songs and a vigorous rhythm section to lay them down with. The band always wanted it to be known it had more in common with the Cure than Jimmy Eat World, and nowhere is that more evident than on the leadoff track “You Petty Pretty Things”, which borrows freely from the former’s “Close to Me”. The irresistible arpeggios of “Tommy Gentle” should extinguish any leftover longing for the slash-and-burn guitars of the band’s ‘90s output. Being a sturdy rock band just isn’t enough for these Kids, however, and the EP ends up being split between winsome pop and dippy, misguided experimentation. The throbbing “Keith Case” sounds like Radiohead knocking about at a soundcheck until singer Matt Pryor checks in with lyrics that run counter to the song’s dark groove. The EP concludes with the drum machine-driven “Home You’re Bound”, which begins as an engaging headphones track, but ultimately offers few surprises during its six-minute running time. While it’s understandable that a 15 year-old band would grow restless mining the same territory, the Get Up Kids continue to find the best results when sticking to the plot.
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// Notes from the Road
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