Sound — 7
Look at technology flower. Society went from idolizing DOS and wrapping itself up in the wonder of SimCity and now it's become so advanced, gloating with pride and confidence, that it has even sent MySpace to the wolves. Since it's hard not to embrace technology (see Britney Spears' latest comeback single), it's no surprise The Get Up Kids reemergence disc kisses synth lines and off-beat riffs. There Are Rules doesn't enforce genre guidelines; the emo rock innovators dabble in a bit of dance rock ('Shatter Your Lungs") and even play with Radiohead tempos ("Automatic", "Pararelevant"), giving lessons on the art of experimentation. But unlike past work, the record has a cold touch. Similar to The National's High Violet, it's bitter, raw and frigid to the eardrum ("The Widow Paris"). What separates it from other musical depressives is the way its unstable; one minute it's trying to fit in with all the cool indie kids and the next it's shedding carnal guitar work bleeding 90s' rhythms. The indecisive nature of whether to hit unique peaks or tear the room apart defeats the purpose of assembling an album with flow, but in some cases, the occasional outcry from the band as a whole is a wonderful thing to hear.
Lyrics — 8
Less desperate, more emotional, guitarist Matt Pryor is a songwriter worth impersonating. He's not an empowering figure or a creative mind capable of making the dictionary catchy; he's an ordinary singer who can express himself through originality. "You have such a candid tongue," reflects the veteran artist on "Rememorable". "You don't sink like stones, like all the other ones". Lyrically, The Get Up Kids unwillingly portray a mature side. The deep dive into textured arrangements on There Are Rules show they aren't afraid of testing waters owned by The Strokes, as they do on "Regent's Court", and don't really have any sympathy for those who can't feed on different sounds. Opener "Tithe" rattles with a woman's distorted voice rambling on about who knows what before Pryor implodes, releasing angst-y lines over a terrifying rhythm that sketches the dark side of indie poetry.
Overall Impression — 7
To those that keep tabs on bands, There Are Rules is a resurrection. To a select few, the fifth studio release is a leech capable of latching on to your taste in music. It has tracks Get Up Kids fans will fall in love with instantly but it also has numbers that can grown on you after a few days or a few months. It isn't anywhere near the caliber of the digital phenomenon In Rainbows, but it's similar because it's disruptive, brash and unique in how it reaches out and touches electronic instrumentation in unexpected ways. Observing pioneers still wail with an adolescent tone can be discerning, but when paired with nostalgic songs like the record's closer, it's hard not to say you hope the band doesn't pull a pop star move again and disappear off the face of the planet for a few years. Though it's an expected next move, there still seems like there's a bit more The Get Up Kids need to get off their chest.