“I used to be good once, but now I get nervous,” sings Matt Pryor at one point on ‘Problems’, the first album for eight years from one of the leading lights of the late 90s midwest emo scene. The Get Up Kids may have got older, but against all the odds they are still showing plenty of their initial spark.
A short acoustic intro quickly bursts into life on opener ‘Satellite’, and from there we are thrust back into a world of swirling guitars and ear-worm choruses as Pryor reflects on the passing of time and life on the edges. As you’d expect from a record called ‘Problems’ from an emo band, it is steeped in self-doubt and melancholy sentiments and worries. Unsurprisingly for a band who debuted over two decades ago, the passing of time seems to be more and more prevalent in their thoughts. But this is a band that can still show that they are still masters of turning the lowest of moments and their biggest fears into soaringly upbeat, punch-the-air anthems.
Amongst the noise and riotous charm, there are some beautifully measured moments too. ‘Salina’ in particular soars in a way that will surprise many after their time away, while ‘Brakelines’ carries heart-breaking desperation. Only on the closing ‘Your Ghost Is Gone’ does it seem to overwhelm briefly, before a thunderous roar at its climax that would wake the dead. These kids may still have problems, but they’re doing alright.