Review Summary: An emo-punk landmark that hasn't aged a day.
After more than a decade playing an integral role in my life, this record is starting to feel like an old friend. While my tastes in music have ebbed and shifted over those years, Something to Write Home About
has remained high in the ranks of my all time favourite records. Sure, there have been periods when it hasn’t been played - maybe even a full year in there somewhere where it didn’t get a spin; but like old friends meeting up again it’s always been a pleasure getting back in touch. And where other records stick around for mainly nostalgic purposes, this album still remains as vital and relevant as it was the day it hit.
The Get Up Kids’ debut, Four Minute Mile
, was a charmingly unpolished yet solid pop-punk effort that was well received by the punk/emo community. It displayed some of the band’s talent for simple yet effective melodicism and lyrical incisiveness that would eventually come to fruition on Something to Write Home About
; but the evolutionary step between the albums was remarkable, perhaps even comparable to the change Brand New would affect between their debut and sophomore records only a few years later. The Get Up Kids second record was a tightly written yet wonderfully organic masterpiece within its genre, with the music rolling between energetic, brilliantly infectious emo-punk and earthy, textured acoustic moments.
Matt Pryor’s voice, with all its minor imperfections and sweetly warm tone, hovers above the soft lulls and delivers lines so insightful, yet so perfectly distilled, that you’ll wish you’d said them and wonder why you hadn’t. He has a way of phrasing - where he will pause for the tiniest fraction of a second before ending a line - that gives his voice a character that many more technically proficient singers would die for. In these softer moments the sound of the record is infused with beautiful details: the oh-so-quiet slide of fingers over guitar strings, the almost imperceptible buzz of a note not quite hit – but rather than detracting from the quality of the music, instead they make it deeply personable, as if a friend were singing and playing in the room. And during the more vigorous moments of the album Pryor stretches the range of his voice to the point where it begins to fragment into a shout, albeit with the seemingly unique ability to shout melodically.
That he can convey such depth of emotion without coming near to an aggressive vocal performance is astounding, and perhaps a lesson that many bands could learn from.
What manages to keep the lyrical content of the record so fresh, even after so many years, is the wonderful complexity in which it engages with the music: subdued moments convey sad laments over lost love and familial disappointment, but also beautiful and resoundingly positive sentiments like those found in ‘I’ll Catch You’; while the more energetic moments equally express a variance of emotion, from the exasperation of ‘Ten Minutes’, to the bitterness of ‘Holiday’ and the brilliant ode to friendship that is ‘Red Letter Day’. These are songs that simply and beautifully deal with the enduring brilliance and celebratory elements of human existence, along with the timeless problems that punctuate the better parts of our lives and natures - all with a sense that the band enjoyed every minute of its creation. So for any fan of pop-punk, emo, or even just great song writing in general, Something to Write Home About
might be what you’ve been waiting for. And for anyone that was there at the beginning – well, maybe it’s time to get back in touch.
Red Letter Day
I'll Catch You