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'Problems' review: Get Up Kids' thoughtful indie-rock

The Get Up Kids' "Problems" on Polyvinyl Record

The Get Up Kids' "Problems" on Polyvinyl Record Co. Credit: Polyvinyl Record Co.



BOTTOM LINE Finding solutions through thoughtful indie-rock

The Get Up Kids work through a lot of issues on “Problems” (Polyvinyl Record Co.) — the indie rockers’ first new album in eight years — including their own concerns about repeating themselves.

The opener “Satellite,” about dealing with loneliness, sets the stage for the rest of the album. It starts out with the focus on Matt Pryor’s distinctive vocals, part of the band’s contemplative side that it has explored in recent years. Then, the switch is flipped and James Suptic’s guitars roar the way they did on the band’s influential “Four Minute Mile” more than two decades ago.

It’s the combination of the band’s raw, emotional lyrics and the raucous guitars and bashing drums that made The Get Up Kids the inspiration of a whole generation of bands, including many in the Long Island scene of the early aughts.

However, “Problems” isn’t a throwback album. The Get Up Kids are simply using some of their older sound to mix with other influences, as their lyrics continue to mature. As catchy as the romping “Fairweather Friends” sounds, it’s The Cure-like, floating keyboard riffs from James Dewees that takes the song to the next level. On “Brakelines,” the energy flowing from the bouncing bass line of Rob Pope and the gang vocals is infectious. “Lou Barlow,” which uses a chance encounter with the co-founder of Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. as the jumping-off point for wondering how to keep a relationship going when everyone keeps changing, incorporates a bit of his lo-fi aesthetic into The Get Up Kids’ more frenetic sound.

Change, after all, is a good thing. And The Get Up Kids’ evolution continues to be positive, as the wrenching piano ballad “Your Ghost Is Gone” shows, with Pryor’s poignant delivery as the most visible sign of how much the band has grown.

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