Ah, to be an angst ridden teen. The days when everything mattered way too much and then you realize, it didn’t matter at all. OK, maybe that’s just anyone who listens to punk/emo music, but looking at the genre now as opposed to the 90’s when The Get Up Kids were making records consistently, it makes you miss those days.
Something to Write Home About, released in 1999, is the second album from the Missouri natives. Nowadays, it’s a perfect trip down memory lane for those who also long for that 1990’s mentality. This album is one that bands in the genre have tried to mimic and replicate time and time again. Many have accomplished this successfully and at times even better than the Kids, but when you listen to the 45 minute loud, fast, and whiny album about lost love you remember that this album was one-of-a-kind.
Admittedly, the Kids’ latest effort, There Are Rules, is an odd direction for the band. While they certainly didn’t attempt to recreate the past, the new album has left some fans torn and wishing they had. You can’t fault a band for challenging themselves and attempting to make strides in advancement, but sometimes those strides can make you appreciate previous releases even more. But let’s focus on yesterday and leave today for later discussion.
The first track to open Something to Write Home About is the fast paced anthem, “Holiday”. Lead singer Matt Pryor glues you in immediately, as he boasts: “What became of everyone I used to know?/Where did our respectable convictions go?/Your words dont match the story that your actions show/What do I know?” Pryor’s (at times) raspy vocals can also sound a bit whiny and high pitched as if with no vocal control, but it’s raw and a perfect match for the lyrics. You know right then and there that The Get Up Kids are working with a real sound. They’re not duplicating, they are who they are.
One of two official singles, “Action & Action” has a catchy hook, which this album capitalizes on over any other effort in the band’s discography. As opposed to their debut, Four Minute Mile, this album appears to be the moment that the band figured it out. The lyrics are reflective not only of a young band, but also the music scene around ’99. If you recall, it was a confusing period in music, full of boy bands, nu metal, and the end of alternative rock. Out of left field, The Get Up Kids arrived with a signature sound that went against the tides… and yet they still managed to turn heads. While this album didn’t break records, it did place #31 on the Billboard charts, and The Get Up Kids were able to capture the awkwardness of this transition and run with it.
A personal favorite has always been the acoustic, “Out of Reach”. It’s a welcome surprise and arguably where the album peaks. Pryor’s chorus (“Theres room to believe/Out of sight/Out of mind/Out of reach”) is so simple that it’s always stuck as rather brilliant. Sometimes it can be the smallest of things that make an impact on you and while this song sort of hides on the album, it paints this band as more than a one trick show as they can play the sweet sappy card and still create a great track.
“Ten Minutes” lead the singles; although, personally, the promotion doesn’t ring a bell. Blame it on the Backstreet Boys’ Millenium taking over my stereo. (Kidding?) Whatever the case, this song just takes me back to that place of being a youngster and not knowing what the fuck I was doing. “If I had to explain it/I wouldn’t know where to start/it’s like you’re falling in love/while I just fall apart,” Pryor belts out. I can’t remember my exact state of mind back in 1999, but I’m pretty sure this lyric might be an insight into my soul. Maybe.
The album closes with “I’ll Catch You”, which has a slow piano intro that leads into the heartfelt love tune about catching up to the one you admire. The lullaby doesn’t last long as the Kids’ get their fill one more time and finish the album strong and heavy. In hindsight, and switching back to today, Something to Write Home About remains an album that’s worth telling your friends about even today. As aforementioned, the effort arrived in a confusing time… believe it or not, but your friends may have missed it. For me, I enjoyed the trip it just took me on. As a result, I don’t see it leaving my rotation anytime soon. How about that for a nostalgia kick?