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On a Wire

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Album Review

After the endless performing that followed Something to Write Home About, the Get up Kids understandably became a little tired of their own material. Saying "no" to their growing fanbase and high-profile headliners (Weezer, Green Day, etc.) was something the Kansas City emo pioneers couldn't do, and the years of touring left the group desperate for something new. When it was finally time to write a new record, anything that rang in sympathy with their hits was to be avoided by the road-weary band. Subsequently, On a Wire has little immediate resemblance to the band's '90s discography. While it isn't hard to tone down so many punk-affected guitars riffs and upbeat tempos, it is quite difficult to unlearn good songwriting. And the group did not eschew this, their most definitive quality. Try as they might to alienate themselves from themselves, the same auditory pleasure centers are infected when listening to On a Wire. Just below the surface, all the quintessential Get up Kids qualities are there: melody, intelligence, and lyrical sincerity. If they were trying to lose their real essence, they failed. But that's to their own benefit, as all the good stuff still exists underneath the surface of On a Wire. This reshaped outer shell has some nice surprises. Lo-fi and post-rock influences ("Walking") are mixed into a subdued pop that calls to mind a host of British influences spanning the entire rock era. The Beatles and Elvis Costello ("All That I Know") are hinted at, along with a few modern Yankee favorites like Elliott Smith and labelmates Dashboard Confessional ("Overdue"). The names change, but there's hardly anything new in song-driven pop/rock. What makes records like On a Wire credible, even superior to their competitors (emo or otherwise), is talent and truthfulness.

Customer Reviews

Much Maligned, Though Magnificent

The Get Up Kids 'On A Wire' is, perhaps, their most polarizing album. Fans of the bands early music hated the bands new directon, however, there are many gems to be found on this album, which has aged quite nicely, in my opinion. The album starts out with acoustic opener, 'Overdue,' reminiscent of some of their most heartbreaking work, this track is a great way for those familiar with their work to ease into the new sound. 'Stay Gone' harkens, at least somewhat, back to their 'Something to Write Home About' glory days. Then the record takes a sharp turn, with Let the Reigns Go Loose, which is, perhaps, one of the best two or three songs on the album. Although, lyrically, it is somewhat reliable GUK fare, musically, it is anything but what you've heard from the band before. After that great track, the album hits a lull for the next three tracks, which are pretty forgettable, except for 'High As the Moon,' which is just an alright song. All That I Know launches the album off into another direction, somewhat similar to the songs preceeding it, however, immensely more enjoyable and pleasent, you can hear The Beatles-influence on this track more than any other. Walking On A Wire is the stand-out track on the album, this beautiful, bleak track, to me, is reminiscent of Radiohead, and paired with a track off their next album, Is There A Way Out?, are probably the most expiramental the band has ever gotten. Augmented by some great work by James Dewees, this track is a must have. Wish You Were Here is the Yin to the pervious songs Yang, it brings it back to the light, STWHA-GUK mood. Campfire Kansas is a classic, sung by Jim Suptic, this song is good, but maybe would have been more at home on Eudora, it doesn't really work as part of this disc, in my opinion. After the forgettable 'The Worst Idea,' we get the beautiful Hannah Hold On, which sounds like a Matt Pryor acoustic number for his other band, The New Amsterdams, perfect way to bookend the album. For Fans of Something To Write Home About: Stay Gone, Wish You Were Here, Fall From Grace Best Tracks: Overdue, Let the Reigns Go Loose, Walking On A Wire, Wish You Were Here

I miss them.

a cd a person can grow up with. campfire kansas has to be an anthem for anybody's endless summer.

The Get Up Kids best album

This is one of the best CD's I ever listen to...I love every thing about this album the sound the art work it reminds me of summer in Los Angeles and I can't ever get tired of listening to ''Walking on a Wire'' it's the best song everrrrrr.


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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