ALBUM REVIEW: The Get Up Kids – Problems

Release Date: May 10th 2019
Label: PolyVinyl Records


After the mixed results of 2011’s ‘There Are Rules’, Missouri’s The Get Up Kids have returned nearly a decade later with its follow-up and their sixth record, ‘Problems’.

Taking some cues from their earlier releases, such as ‘Something To Write Home About’ and ‘Guilt Show’, the record infuses simple yet strong melodies that weave in and out of bouncing tracks.

Even though eight years may have passed between records, the group haven’t missed a beat. Opening with ‘Satellite’, acoustic guitars and gentle distortion slowly build towards the thrashing chorus, filled with melodic lead lines and jagged guitars; the song bursts with both energy and intimacy instantaneously.

Continuing strongly, ‘The Problem Is Me’ showcases stamping chords working alongside the harmonised leads of keyboardist James Dewees and guitarist Jim Suptic before the punchy vocal hooks of Matt Pryor drive the track to its stellar and catchy chorus.

Expanding on the fuzzy undertones that have been percolating throughout, ‘Salina’ sees bassist Rob Pope take charge against loose guitars and scuttling drumbeats. By taking a less is more approach, the group create a subtle and harmonically rich track.

Whilst the quartet may have pulled the reigns in on experimentation, tracks such as ‘Waking Up Alone’ still inject outside elements, with chip tune style synths sitting against jagged guitars whilst hammering drums hold them together.

Throughout the record, Ryan Pope consistently delivers. Whether it’s the shuffling beat of ‘Fairweather Friends’, or the punchy accents that drive through ‘Now Or Never’, Pope builds and breaks tension with ease.

Deviating from the bright and shimmering melodies found previously, ‘The Advocate’ invokes haunting pianos and blues tinged guitar leads to deliver a bouncing and dark track. Working with multiple elements, it moves in and out before exploding into a coda comprised of overlapping vocal melodies.

Whilst The Get Up Kids still deliver infectious hooks and worming melodies, it’s the subtle changes that stop the record from being a re-visitation of past glories. This is evidenced in the album’s curtain closer, ‘Your Ghost Is Gone’, a sparse and tentative track, with shimmering chords work against an intimate vocal delivery. With melodic nuances gliding in and out, as they inevitably converge, the final moments of the record re-enforce the group’s charm.

By returning to less experimental aspects of their sound, ‘Problems’ manages to deliver solid tracks throughout. Whilst the majority of the record is conventional in its structure, the strong melodies and moving dynamics ensure that it was certainly worth the eight year long wait.