The 4:00 mile is running’s most acclaimed benchmark. Without a doubt, the standard has lost some of its intrigue over the years as it’s become more realistic, but back in the mid-1900’s it was widely believed by runners and scientists alike that such a feat was impossible, that your heart would literally explode upon attempting the endeavor. Now that the mile record has gone well under 4:00, by a whopping 17 seconds, what used to seem so distant is now achieved by professional middle-distance runners across the globe. In a sense, the album name here is pretty apt. Four-Minute Mile
is truly a milestone of the genre. Like breaking the 4:00 mile put Roger Bannister and running on a grand, international stage, Four-Minute Mile
did the same for the youthful band from Missourri who soon found themselves touring Europe and Asia, fresh out of high school. With their debut album Four-Minute Mile
, The Get Up Kids solidified themselves as major players in the second-wave emo scene, as well as single-handedly jumping the gun on what would turn into the 21st century’s pop-punk. It makes perfect sense that Four-Minute Mile
is so influential and prominent. While it may be a bit rash and haphazard at times, The Get Up Kids concoction of emo and humungous pop hooks is intensely lovable. Lyrically intelligent and relatable, emotional, and endearingly catchy, it pains me to think of an album better suited to reminisce being 17 years old and carefree.
For the sake of accuracy, it should be made clear that The Get Up Kids’ subsequent album, Something To Write Home About,
is widely heralded as the true album that influenced so many big-name pop-punk acts. It should also be mentioned that The Get Up Kids wish to disassociate themselves with subsequent pop-punk. Guitarist Jim Suptic took the time to make this obvious when he said, “The punk scene we came out of and the punk scene now are completely different. It's like glam rock now. We played the Bamboozle fests this year and we felt really out of place... If this is the world we helped create, then I apologize.”
With the mounds of influence, though, that dissociation is tough to come by. Acts like Blink-182 and Fallout Boy regularly cite TGUK as a cheif predecessor. It’s not just the big names either, listening to The Early November’s “Baby Blue,” you can hear an ode to TGUK both lyrically and melodically, when they repeat lines from “No Love,” ”I don’t / want you / ... to love me anymore”
. How exactly did such an inexperienced, juvenile, quintet make such a prominent footprint so early in their career?
The Get Up Kids most coveted asset is their uncanny ability to take the long-standing emo aesthetic and make it delightfully accessible and upbeat. Through a plethora of well-crafted melodies, catchy hooks, and choruses, TGUK injected some “pop” into their emo, and the hybrid was born, Four-Minute Mile
. “Coming Clean,” “Don’t Hate Me,” “Stay Gold Ponyboy,” and “No Love” all contain gloriously refreshing melodies and hooks. Keep in mind, this is well before that same catchiness was left out in the sun one-too-many times and eventually became stale. Either way, Four-Minute Mile
is undeniably infectious, an album as easy to sing along to as it is to get absorbed in the lyrics. Be wary though, these are the minds of high-schoolers on TGUK’s debut. Four-Minute Mile
was recorded in a single weekend, after drummer Ryan Pope got out of school on Friday and finished before the bell on Monday morning. In effect, the listener becomes privy to an insightful look into the psyche of The Get Up Kids, mostly filled with thoughts on love, relationships, and life before responsibility. The carefree vibe of Four Minute Mile
meshes perfectly with both the massive pop hooks, and the more introspective, slow-burning tracks like “Better Half,” most notably.
As my present review unfolds, it becomes more and more placid what the biggest draw on Four-Minute Mile
is- the complementary nature of the album. The raw energy galvanizes the lively lyrics. The catchiness sits alongside the album’s pithiness, giving the album an air of such listenability. Perhaps most notable, though, is the production-- or lack thereof. Four-Minute Mile
, as you’ve probably guessed, isn’t the most polished release. Raw, tattered, and rough, the intimacies of Four-Minute Mile
aren’t lost among too much glitter and paint. The personal nature of the album is heavenly, and only serves to heighten the experience, like anything other than a slipshod production would have made Four-Minute Mile
half the album it is.
Speculations aside, Four-Minute Mile
is what solidifies The Get Up Kids as pop-punk forefathers, for me. Despite their more newfound disillusionment with the scene they inspired, their influence is indisputable and deserved; and Four-Minute Mile
remains the primary source of this inspiration. Before responsibility, complications, and real life is thrust upon you, revel in The Get Up Kids; because they personify the insouciant and idealistic life of 18 year old, American guys with nothing but girls, graduating high-school, and leaving their hometown on their minds. Better yet, listen to Four-Minute Mile
well after those sublime years have fleeted, and reminisce quietly... or while screaming your lungs out to “No Love” and “Coming Clean," like I do.