It must be a difficult task for a band to ask themselves just how long they can keep up a certain style or demeanor when it comes to how they make music - and for The Get Up Kids, it seems they did this long ago. Upon the release of their 1999 critically acclaimed LP, Something To Write Home About, they were the face of catchy and innocent pop-punk, and for good reason. They displayed the ability to not only craft fun and memorable tunes fueled by a nostalgic energy, but to sustain it for an entire record and not just pump out a few singles and call it a day. However, one must wonder how long they could have kept that up. What's the shelf-life of innocent pop music when bands appear out of the mist to ride off your coattails? And to answer this, they released their 2002 LP, On A Wire, which stripped away elements of pop-punk and replaced it with a new, slightly more grown approach to what they established on their previous outing. They built upon this sound until their eventual break-up in 2004 and since then they've poked their heads out of their holes to release a teaser of an EP just last year, and now their long-awaited return, There Are Rules.
With their return, The Get Up Kids make it clear that they're not quite the Kids we once knew, but aren't entirely different either. Throughout the record we're introduced to a new, slightly more powerful version of the melancholic boys who produced their first four records. Beginning with the quick and strong "Tithe", which flows intensely with its distorted guitars and thick bass lines - which remain a prominent feature throughout the record - they teeter on the edge of their previous veneer with a newer, nearly-punk sounding performance. Matt Pryor's often belligerent vocal work is what sets the group apart so clearly from their previous work. He shouts with a powerful intensity, but can still restrain himself for the poppier tracks such as "Shatter Your Lung", which again features the prominent bass beautifully. It comes with no surprise how versatile the group is during several moments on the record, as they've tested the waters of their capabilities over their four previous LP's, however during several moments on the album they seem to rely too much on the gritty sound they utilized superbly on other tracks, bringing their momentum down to a slow drag.
While several moments during the course of the record can take away from the overall enjoyment of The Get Up Kids' return to the studio, they ultimately deliver with a fun, energetic, and fresh album to please long-term fans and usher in a new sound for themselves with only a few glaring flaws along the way. The drab, boring feel of "When It Dies" and "Keith Case" bog down the last tracks of the record, but never entirely let it sink. It would take a lot for The Get Up Kids to make a bad record, and fortunately for them they haven't done it in their fourteen years in the industry.