The release of The Get Up Kids’ new album Guilt
Show demonstrates that the emo phenomenon is a long way from
dying off. Short for “emotional,” the term describes
musicians that not only sing with candid feeling, but wallow in a
pool of their own tragic pain. This melodramatic whimpering usually
turns irritating, but a few bands, such as Juliana Theory and
Thursday, cultivate intensity through their instrumental prowess
instead of relying on a shrill whine.
The Kids, on the other hand, are too entrenched within the emo
scene to qualify as either horrible or great.
Guilt Show is an attempt to retain their sensitive
fanbase as well as please the general public. They simply follow
the paradigm and churn out the expected material, which in the end
hurts them as their music becomes the complete opposite of what it
was meant to be: hollow.
Following the direction of their last album On a Wire,
The Kids traded in their aggressive, gut-wrenching crescendos for
placid, mid-tempo beats. Each song presented on its own evokes the
mindless happiness of a beautiful sunny day, but juxtaposed with
each other the beats become monotonous and sterile. Matt
Pryor’s nasal vocals lack any conviction as they glide over
the innocuous guitars riffs and without any range, his voice
tirelessly trods along without any climax.
This wouldn’t be problematic if the album was intended to
be taken lightly. Histrionic titles such as “Martyr Me”
and “The Dark Night of the Soul” reveal The Kids’
attempt to manufacture something sinister, yet they somehow come
off sounding juvenile. Most of the songs are brimming with
allusions to unrequited love or glamorized notions of suicide. In
“Sympathy” Pryor croons, “Bound and tied / Keep
the bottle down / To our surprise / Suspect you had discipline or
nerve.” Without the lyrical context, the upbeat melody
suggests the frivolity of a first kiss.
After a decade, The Get Up Kids have still not grown up.
Although their sound has become glossier and more heavily produced,
the quality of their music has yet to improve. The Kids are not the
band to lend credibility to a scene that is becoming more
associated for its fashion than its music. They are merely the
harbingers, for better or for worse, of the infiltration of emo
into the mainstream.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars