Analogue Music | The Get Up Kids - Kicker


Artist: The Get Up Kids · Written by Scott Elingburg

Date Released

8 June, 2018


Polyvinyl Records


13 minutes

Four songs in thirteen minutes.

That’s the total length of The Get Up Kids' EP, Kicker. It’s also the total number of complete songs I’ve heard from the Kansas City-based band. And that makes Kicker my formal introduction to the band—and it feels good to me. Good not only because the songs are catchy and layered with hooks and choruses, but also because I bring no baggage, no association, and no expectations of what a Get Up Kids song, album, or chorus should sound like.

The strength of Kicker lies in the format. As a format, the EP is short, easily consumed and, when done well, stays long after the lights go out. I love the album format and will always champion the extent and experience, but sometimes the EP gives us what we need, not only what we want. In the ubiquitous realm of immediacy and streaming-based listening, the EP ticks off several check boxes for eager, singular listeners.

Kicker, the band’s debut for Polyvinyl, titled after their foosball obsession, also works purely on the strength of these four songs. “Maybe” is an opening salvo worth experiencing again and again and is easily the strongest track of the four songs thanks to the 4/4 drive time and singer Matt Pryor’s direct maneuvering straight through a pre-chorus into an even stronger chorus. “Maybe” is an assured statement of musicianship that easily bests anything Weezer has put out since The Green Album. Pryor, also shuts down Kicker with another bar beater, “My Own Reflection,” a song that, like it’s sister song “Maybe,” features some brilliantly timed keyboard notes from James Dewees. And though the song doesn’t sound like it gets started until nearly a minute and a half in, it’s builds the whole time, whether you hear it ascend or not.

“Better This Way” is singer/guitarist Jim Suptic’s contribution and, even though it sounds aurally smaller than it’s stomping predecessor “Maybe,” the arc of the EP is entirely off without it. I skipped it a few times after several initial listens, but I avoided that fall and come back around to it just based on the drum, bass, and fuzz guitar foundation. It’s no weak track, only a different inclusion; like a shifting the balance between a left and right speaker for a different effect.

“I’m Sorry,” is the lone song that starts out of the gate and stays there, rolling over lines of regret offered up without suspicion or sarcasm: “I never want to miss your birthday parties / I just really want to see you smiling / Never wanna have to say I’m sorry.” Twenty years ago, I might have laughed off the sentiment (too mushy for my mid-20's), but, for me and possibly for the fathers among the listening population, this is a song I want to share with my kid, sentiment be damned. It’s a sweet, unselfish paean about how much easier it is to be a better person when someone depends on you and I love it's honesty and affection.

Kicker sounds like a revitalized band that’s passionately navigating and reconciling the tricky terrain of their early emo past and coalescing it with the new reality of adult life. In that respect, the need to reconcile those two spaces at all—as if they were two separate planets rather than two side of the same coin—may be emo’s biggest shortfall as a genre. But it's one The Get Up Kids sidestep with this new batch of songs. Everyone is getting older, it’s true, but it sounds like The Get Up Kids don’t mind if we hop the fence and use their neighbor’s pool for an impromptu party. There’s room enough and a song for everyone on Kicker.