Kicker is almost all you could ask for from The Get Up Kids.
Though they are terrible at regularly releasing music, The Get Up Kids are refreshingly consistent. One of the most charming Second-Wave Emo bands, they managed to be engaging and fun for five albums, despite a breakup and a seven-year gap between There Are Rules and Guilt Show. The band has toured semi-regularly for the last few years since reuniting, but nary a whiff of new music—until now.
Kicker, a four-song collection and their first release in seven years, is a brisk, 13-minute reminder of the band’s undeniable charms. It’s a consistent burst of emo exuberance, maintaining a single mood long enough to be exhilarating but not overstay its welcome.
Bright pop from the get-go, the EP has front man Matt Pryor’s classic emo whine in the forefront; his voice has aged well, is mild growl a welcome sound. Those already familiar with the band can expect four songs that are exactly like those made when we last saw the band –and, really, through their whole career. Each track is built around similar chugging guitars and the relatively simple, always exciting drums you’ve come to expect. They seem to operate on an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” level here, and while this isn’t a bad thing, it does mean the songs can quickly lose their potency no matter how fun they are.
Pryor plays it safe with what are for the most part generic lyrics, though this lessens as the EP progresses. “Maybe,” with lines like,“Sound off, the only way/ Same fight as yesterday,” lacks directness and such lackluster lyrics strip the song of its potential impact. “Better This Way” is still indirect but offers growth: “If you need me/ I’ll be here/ But if you wanna disappear it would be wrong to say/ I guess some things are better this way.”
By closing track “My Own Reflection,” Pryor has shaken off the clichés, and the result is the EP strongest track. “So just in case you haven’t heard/ The situation’s got worse/ My heart will beat until it burns/ It’s really gotta fucking hurt.” One can only hope their next album does its job as well as this.
As a silence-breaker, Kicker is almost all you could ask for from The Get Up Kids. The only drawback to this sunny music is a lack of dynamics, which leaves you wanting something else to balance the mix. At 13 minutes long, the EP has a “…that’s it?” feeling built in, even if this morsel tastes pretty good. It’s hard to imagine what the next Get Up Kids album might sound like, but this is a snapshot of where the band is creatively in 2018.