>> After an eight year absence, The Get Up Kids return to try their hand at fusing their pop punk roots with a warm indie rock styling.
The Get Up Kids were one of the most important pioneers in pop punk when they first hit the scene in 1997. Then, they weren’t considered a pop punk band, but rather an “alternative” outfit, but with early hits like “Holiday” and “Don’t Hate Me," The Get Up Kids found themselves becoming leaders in what would become a new genre. Fast forward to now, and the band seems ready to enter a new era for themselves. Their latest record, 'Problems,' comes fresh after an eight year absence from releasing new material, and while the group has certainly been influenced by new trends in the indie rock and emo scene, they’ve found a way to interject their own elements to create something for themselves. What we end up with on 'Problems' is a record that forgoes much of the previous posthardcore elements for something warmer and cleaner, mixing the thrashing guitars with cleaner vocals and simple melodies. There are kickass guitar solos and angsty refrains, that are now paired with synth leads and bright, bouncy rhythms. And, of course, the softer, forward pressing acoustic moments toward the end that every pop punk album seemingly requires. A lot of the classic ranges and styles of pop punk are here, which provide a memory of the group’s roots, while still clearly aiming for the more radio friendly, summer driving, indie rock direction. For the most part, The Get Up Kids find success in this direction, a lot of this is reliant on both their chemistry as a group, as well as the competency of the mix. One would think that a project like this would aim to clean up the band's sound too much, but fortunately on 'Problems,' while the sound gets dangerously close to that territory, the production never fully sullies the sound.
This record isn’t anything particularly remarkable. As time has gone on and the glory days of Warped Tour have come to an end, many of the early risers for post hardcore, pop punk, and adjacent genres have closed their doors or moved into this direction. What is surprising in the case of The Get Up Kids is how tastefully this transition has been done. If you listen to this record in comparison to the last one, you’ll notice that they attempted to do this kind of merger of sounds back then, but instead of finding something that could somewhat appease both groups, they sounded more confused than confident, mixing a Cage The Elephant sound with their own hardcore influences. And while 'Problems' isn’t as misguided as that, it still lacks its own voice and vision to completely stick the landing. There are very few ideas that captivate, and while there are plenty of catchy moments and agreeable sentiments, there’s little in the way of innovation that can make this compare to anything in the band's older discography.
This record feels reminiscent of what Weezer was attempting to do with their recent 'Black Album,' just done with lesser risk, and so the missteps on this project compared to that one don’t feel as titanic. 'Problems' is good for a listen, and will definitely bring back fond memories for fans of the genre, but it can’t seem to find anything particular to focus on lyrically or instrumentally to stick a proper landing. As a result, we have a well mixed, well played, well intended indie rock record that is easy on the ears, but isn’t particularly memorable. 2.9/5 <<