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Guilt Show

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Album Review

Back in the day (four years ago), the Get Up Kids were about giddy anthems and Superchunk posters in practice rooms. Still, a strong emphasis on songwriting did suggest there was more than just more and louder power chords on the band's horizon, and their strings officially came in with 2002's On a Wire. The album scuttled punk fervor and plaintive vocal cries in favor of subtle pop vessels loaded with ambitious writing. A little too ambitious — Wire at times seemed like a gaggle of great ideas running around with their heads cut off. But Matt Pryor and the lads have had a few years to figure it out, and with Guilt Show, they officially put the Get Up Kids' past to bed. Pryor's screechy vocals can still suggest the bravado of youth. But he's moved past love letters to long-distance girlfriends, or bawling on the phone as the guitars blare and the drums stumble in double time. No, the lyrics here are pensive, reflecting on growing families, responsibilities, and bittersweet post-twentysomething realities. ("All my will to fight/Redemption is a bitch to end all," from the fabulous "The Dark Night of the Soul"). As the songwriting promise of GUK's youth has been fully realized, so has its musical transformation. Besides its wry and wiry lyrics, Guilt Show's real stars are the keyboards of James Dewees. His soft touch dominates the album's solid midsection, fleshing out each mature pop flourish and '60s influence. An organ guides the Replacements-ish "Martyr Me," while "How Long Is Too Long" emerges from layers of whirring synths into a straightforward pop gem with its own keys to go by. "In Your Sea" is downright Technicolor jaunty, even if, like Spoon, it's quietly acerbic, and the rocking "One You Want" is as accessible and meaningful as anything from the past, but turns on a telling lyric — "It's too late to turn your age around" — and features a baroque bridge right out of a Michael Penn song. This is the maturity of the Get Up Kids today. Yesterday doesn't matter because Guilt Show broadcasts the update: the Get Up Kids have grown into a talented American pop/rock band worthy of being held accountable today, both for what they're saying and how they're sounding.


Formed: 1994 in Kansas City, MO

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Kansas City's Get Up Kids play melodic, pop-inflected emo similar to the Promise Ring and Braid, with whom the band released a split single in 1998. The influential group -- vocalist/guitarist Matthew Pryor, guitarist/vocalist Jim Suptic, bassist Robert Pope, and drummer Ryan Pope (Robert's younger brother, who replaced Nathan Shay early on) -- debuted in 1996 with a slew of 7"s, including Shorty on the Huey Proudhon label and All Stars on Doghouse Records. Both the Woodson EP and their debut full-length,...
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