At the turn of the century, The Get Up Kids were firing on all cylinders. The release of Something to write Home About in 1999 launched the band to notoriety and effectively identified The Get Up Kids as the prototypical emo rock band. A few years later, though, the band sought to distance themselves from that scene and experimented with a more mature sound. The band offered less intense, frantic music on 2002′s On a Wireand 2004′s Guilt Show, both of which were hailed by critics who appreciate the band’s expanding horizons. However, fans didn’t get to see where The Get Up Kids would go next as the band broke up in 2005. Five years later, though, the band is back together and set to release Simple Science on April 27. This album picks up where the band left off, offering a more mature, subdued sound than the band’s early work.
“Your Petty Pretty Things” opens with some lightly distorted guitars weaving melodies in and out of each other until the verse, which offers just drums and bass. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Matt Pryor delivers some gloomy lyrics in a measured, conversational tone: “The ground beneath your feet isn’t the stable earth you thought.” Some strumming before the chorus makes it seem like the chorus will be a big one, but The Get Up Kids hold back, keeping the mood in this track rather subdued. While this song feels moody, it’s clearly not the kind of emo that the band was known for in its early days. However, the band seems comfortable on this track, which offers plenty of dynamic changes.
An upbeat, heavily distorted bass riff kicks off “Keith Case,” the second track on the EP. The guitars offer simple, repetitive strumming, but that consistency works well with the undulating bass riff. Some studio voice modulation makes Pryor’s voice a bit on the creepy side as he muses, “Look how far, look how far we fell.” This track is very spacey and has an industrial feel at times, though the choruses roar with distorted guitar and passionate singing from Pryor. The instrumental break toward the end of the song brings this one to a great conclusion.
“Tommy Gentle” shoots off in a completely different direction, opening with cleanly picked electric guitars and a driving bass riff. There’s a slight, odd-metered feel to this one thanks to the drums and vocal rhythm, but it’s still nowhere near as abstract as “Keith Case.” The lyrics here contemplate an emotional abandonment: “Anything you lay your hands on, golden like a Midas, but tonight it turns to stone. Now that the photographs are gone, now that the lights are all blown, and now that the house has all gone home, where do you go?” This track doesn’t ever get too loud, but there’s a lot of intensity here, and the emotion is palpable in Pryor’s pleading voice. Despite being just two and a half minutes long, the song feels much longer and more complex.
A simple drum beat and a sustained synthesizer chord give “How You’re Bound” a spooky, but anticipation-inducing sound from the start. Some cleanly picked guitars enter soon after, and the melody sounds comforting over the atmospheric sounds in the background. Pryor’s vocals fit right into the mix as well, and the gloomy lyrics match the overall mood of the track: “Save the S.O.S. – don’t want to know…and on the way home – hold you up, you fall down.” This song sounds as though it could be the soundtrack to a rainy day, with its somber sound and slow, brooding feel. The song begins to pick in the middle of the track, though, and some electronic instrumentation adds another degree of complexity to the mix. The song slowly builds intensity and crescendos to a climax before fading out into silence.
The Get Up Kids may be credited with launching the emo scene that still exists today, but to listen to Simple Science, you’d never know that. While there is a lot of passion and emotion on this EP, it is very subdued and relaxed, and sounds more like Radiohead than My Chemical Romance. It’s easy to see that The Get Up Kids have matured and are comfortable with their new sound. While much of Simple Science is downbeat and brooding, it still has intensity and is a solid effort.