In the second half of the 1990s, the Get Up Kids fostered a thriving DIY punk scene in a landlocked college town, knocked out their debut in a weekend with Bob Weston of Shellac, and turned down major-label offers. Put aside the love songs, and their classic Something to Write Home About can be read as a concept album about the pressure of seeing then-fledgling indie label Vagrant literally bet the farm on their success. But they also wrote concisely and passionately about girls, heartbreak, and trouble with authority, thus setting the norms for 21st-century emo: While the band’s presentation and ethics were overtly punk, their songs harkened back to early rock’n’roll records that functioned as teen pop.
The EP format has always served the Get Up Kids well—and if Kicker doesn’t prove to be as essential or experimental as Woodson, Simple Science, or Red Letter Day, maybe that’s by design. The band is set to record a new LP for release in 2019, a year that will mark the 20th anniversary of Something to Write Home About. They must sense the nostalgia coming: In the video for Suptic’s triumphant “Better This Way,” an extra is wearing the same T-shirt drummer Ryan Pope sported in the clip for “Action & Action,” a beloved Something single that epitomizes the emo sound and style of 1999. And the hook on the EP’s lead single, “Maybe,” echoes the melody of “My Apology,” another track from that classic album. These small acknowledgments of past triumphs reverberate throughout Kicker: The Get Up Kids have finally reopened a dialogue with their younger selves.