The Get Up Kids are back, and apparently they are ready to get on with their musical lives. There are Rules is definitely a new sound for them, with some 80s pop and electronic elements thrown in. At times reminiscent of Radiohead, at times reminiscent of the Strokes, it is nonetheless a sound all their own, and it's a good one at that. The album opener "Tithe" is the perfect song to start this one off. It hits you hard, and hits you fast, while at the same time giving that darker, more non-melodic sound that is found throughout the album.
It's new, it's fresh - Easily their most mature album (they are older after all), this album feels like the Get Up Kids growing up with their audience. It's darker, more bass-heavy, and has more interesting guitar work than any of their previous albums. They have proved throughout their career that they aren't willing to re-hash old stuff, and this is definitely like nothing they've ever done before.
It's still a Get Up Kids Album - Though it is most certainly a new sound, you can still tell it's a TGUK album. Musically, it seems drastically different, but there is something so familiar about Matt Pryor's unpretentious vocals that he could probably take anything and make it a Get Up Kids song. The guys continue to prove that they are excellent songwriters, and they bring a lot of energy to this album that seemed just a little bit missing in The Guilt Show.
Jim Suptic sings 2 songs - This is something I was excited about. Though Pryor is the better singer, Suptic voice has a great "rough around the edges" quality that helps break up the album. His 2 songs are probably the most experimental on the album, but definitely fit in with the theme and I am more than happy to see him singing.
It gives me hope for the Get Up Kids future - I liked the Guilt Show. I liked it a lot. But I felt that it was sort of a return to form, trying to re-capture Something to Write Home About. I feel like it should have been the CD between STWHA and On a Wire. But when they broke up, I kind of thought, "that's a good one to go out on." There are Rules is such an interesting, unexpected step to take, that I now can't wait to see what they will do next. Well done, boys!
A few songs seem undeveloped - Song 2 "Regent's Court" and song 12 "Rememorable" are the closest thing to previous Get Up Kids songs on this album (and they are great). But both clock in at under 3 minutes, and seem to end out of nowhere when you are really starting to get into them. Maybe this was intentional, but it's a minor negative. Also the song "Better Lie" starts out very dark sounding with some drum work that leads you to believe it's about to go even darker and harder, but it just kind of meanders about with no direction afterwards. The 2 best developed songs on the album (start slow, build to amazing crescendos) are #8 (Keith Case) and #9 (The Widow Paris).
Ultimately, this album is both great upon initial listens (maybe the 2nd or 3rd time through), and deep enough to explore for a while. This one will make a consistent rotation for me over the next couple of years I'm sure, seeing as how I still listen to all of their stuff, and it really leaves me wondering what they might do next. Buy it! Now!