The Get Up Kids: “Kicker” (Polyvinyl Records)

  When I scroll through my music library on my phone, I always laugh a bit to myself when I get to the letter “H.” Why? Because I have about eight or nine songs with the name — “Holiday” — that range from artists like Hilary Duff to Weezer to The Bee Gees. It’s something I find funny because I have such a wide collection of musical genres in my library, and yet, at least one genre has had a band or an artist with a song entitled “Holiday.” The Get Up Kids’ song “Holiday” — off of Something to Write Home About — fills the emo, indie rock category. It is one of my favorite “Holiday” songs in my collection.

  Although, in all honesty, The Get Up Kids have never been more to me than that song. It’s a timeless indie rock track off one of their most well-known albums. Therefore, when their EP came out earlier this month, I did not jump on the chance to listen to it. I appreciate their one record and never found myself intrigued enough to venture further into their discography. At least, that was until I read that this EP was reminiscent of their earlier music. Pitchfork claims that it is some of their best work since their heyday in the late 1990s. So, if the only album I truly like and know of theirs is from 1999, then I might just like this new EP — because you can’t get any more late ‘90s than 1999.

  I guess the critics and fans were right, because Kicker really is similar to their earlier work and finally has a focus on their deep rooted emo strengths. The 13-minute EP contains four tracks, all authentic Get Up Kids, and all really good. This is only the band’s second release since their reunion back in 2011. It’s more concise than There Are Rules and doesn’t take away from what the band is good at. The seven-year stretch of a hiatus seems to have been a good thing for the band, as they have finally dug deep enough to find inklings of their younger selves and an original sound within themselves.

  When thinking about music of the ‘90s, you must know that there are two main categories: pop that was purely pop and rock that stemmed into many subcategories (i.e.: grunge, punk, emo, indie, etc.). The Get Up Kids still fit perfectly in that mixed rock genre and flourished as they let their angst and songwriting intertwine into perfectly molded songs and records. Kicker comes two decades after that, but doesn’t miss a beat. The tempos for all four songs are fast and jumpy with engines revving. There are upbeat melodies that have a little bit of pop written on them, but do not go unnoticed; even though they’re found underneath screeching guitars, thumping basslines, and experimental keyboard licks.

  “I’m Sorry” is a fundamental song that makes the four-track album even more worthwhile due to its intense drum build up. The pounding is crisp and exhilarating, the perfect time for a mosh pit to regain their energy before throwing themselves into it as the phenomenal chorus starts up again. It is followed by the enthusiastic and upbeat “My Own Reflection” that is emotionally charged, but not negative in the least. I found the whole album is like that. It’s catchy, addictive, and completely concert ready. The Get Up Kids may have aged, may have started families, and may have gone through some personal hiccups; but their musical roots have been found and they are running with it hard and fast. This EP is just a short, invigorating example of what they were and what is to come.