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The Get Up Kids: There Are Rules

Quality Hill

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The Get Up Kids got a bad rap in the '90s. Call 'em emo, but their scrappy, hook-driven pop-punk was often deceptively mature. At least, it was appropriate. Unlike lesser mid-'90s peers - 30-year-olds who wrote from a teenaged perspective - GUK made music for and about themselves. But as band members grew older, their sound naturally became imprecise. There Are Rules, their first release in seven years, is a strange animal. Sonically, it's different from anything they've done before, but the melodic intuition is familiar. When they opt for drastic change, as on the desolate, Trent Reznor-inspired "Rally 'Round the Fool," it only sorta works. But straightforward pop updates on the classic GUK sound, like insta-hit "Regent's Court," a number among the most memorable tunes they've ever written. There's too much of the former and not enough of the latter on There Are Rules. Still, it's nice to hear this band sounding comfortable in its shoes again. (3 out of 5 stars)

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