It must be tough being The Get Up Kids. Being accused of completely killing the world of emo is we know it. Well, that seems a little harsh, but the Kansas kids have always been compared to the term "emo". I don't really understand why, since they music is incredibly poppy. Nevertheless, it was this album that got them that status. As the kings of "emo", or at least to the desperate fans that loved this album in the 20th century. Something To Write Home About
is quite simply a collection of pop-punk fueled anthems filled to the brim with clever lyrics and catchy melodies.
From the pick sliding up that guitar in the beginning of "Holiday", you know you are in for a treat. Matt's strong voice sings "What became of everyone I used to know? Where did our respectable convictions go?" over a beautifully pieced-together pop tune that brings as much rhythm to it as it does heart. The tempo change into the second chorus, the massive slow-down at the end, all fantastic additions to this impressive opener. The album then rushes through "Action & Action", another poppy track with more focus on the keyboard melody placed over Matt's lyrics.
"Valentine" is the first real big highlight of the album, and a look at how The Kids can write such beautiful poetry. "Your good intentions count for little anymore. If you're sorry why wage war?" are sung powerfully and almost effortlessly while the music feels like another track in itself. James' piano work against Ryan's rolling drums sound brilliant. "Red Letter Day" follows en suite, providing more melodic and emotional soft-pop tunes. The lyrics are very vague, yet they fit the rocky music so nicely.
It's not often you heard acoustic tracks in the middle of an album as electrically-dominated as well, yet "Out Of Reach" feels right at home. I'll be honest, it's poorly played. Yet that gritty edge it has works to perfection against Matt's harmonic voice. It's sweet and uplifting, yet ironically depressing at the same time, and it couldn't have been produced better. Next we have another catchy number. "Ten minutes" will have you singing along in, well, ten minutes. Maybe not, but it's memorable chorus and melodic riffs will surely stick in your head. And once again, the lyrics shine as bright as ever ("Maybe things are getting better/Maybe things aren't so bad./Don't be gone when I get home, you're all I have" sounds amazing), proving The Get Up Kids can write more than a sad ballad.
"The Company Dime" is one of the more downbeat songs on the album, yet keeps the instruments the band are used to. It's slow tempo and piano melody instead of a keyboard back the fantastically played drum beats and Matt's strong voice. It's not one of the catchiest songs on the album, and it's unlikely you'll be singing along to this one, but there are some clever words slipped in. "My Apology" is Matt's apology for previous lyrics he's written, but sound sheerly brilliant against the quiet tone of the song. "Sometimes I'm old enough to keep routines, sometimes I'm child enough to scream" plays like a poem, as well as many other lines in this song. Not the best on the album, but it's lyricary is beautiful.
Where would a song as sad and down-beat as this be without a nice track about a one night stand? "I'm A Loner Dottie, A Rebel" tells the tale of 'the morning after' to perfection, as Matt sings "One night, doesn't mean the rest of my life." openly. It's a sad song, and you really get the feeling of how the night went down. "Long Goodnight" is another ballad-esque and sad song, focusing mostly on hateful lyrics ("If it all ended tonight/You know that I wouldn't mind." flows poetically through the speakers). It's captivating how strong these lyrics sound against their radio-friendly pop-punk music.
"Close To Home" is a brilliant song, and has a very feel-good summer vibe to it. The guitar riffs, the keyboard melodies, the pounding drums, they fit so well together. And once again, Matt steals the song with his impressive songwriting ("There's no shame like no sound/From sources hits close to home/Everything we've found says make your own destiny." is one line). Of course, this leads into probably one of the most famous ballads in the pop-punk world. "I'll Catch You" is a desperately emotional ride, as Matt sings with his heart on his sleeve over a simple yet incredibly memorable piano melody. It's not their best song lyrically, but it works so well as it's so simple. No complex metaphors or tongue-twisting verses, just regular and easy-to-remember lyrics. "Don't worry, I'll catch you/Don't ever worry" just sounds truthful and straight, and I think that's what makes this song such a raw and intense way to cap off the album.
In my opinion, this is a classic. Many bands today will say they were influenced by this album, both lyrically and musically. Matt and co's impressive talent quickly spread through the US and the world, and made The Get Up Kids a household name in pop-punk. It's both easy to get into, and an eye-opener to lyrics you didn't notice that sound so beautiful on the next listen. It's well produced, it's well recorded, and it's just an all-round perfect example of how melody and pop-punk can sound beautiful.