CD Reviews

Emo Pop

The Get Up Kids There Are Rules (Quality Hill)

Along with Saves the Day, The Get Up Kids crafted the blueprint for emo-enhanced pop-punk, mixing hard-core aggression and indie-pop instinct. There are dudes in their late-20s today who have memorized every ripped-from-a-diary lyric by chief Kid Matt Pryor. But emo’s through being cool. Now, There Are Rules, the band’s first release in seven years, sets out to prove that genre conventions are made to be broken. While the speaker-blowing “Tithe” and full-tilt rocker “Regent’s Court” initially suggest the Kansas City boys have little new to say, by the third track, slippery electro-pop “Shatter Your Lungs,” unorthodox instrumentation asserts control. “Rally ’Round the Fool” cleverly overlays fey vocals against an eerily synthetic Brian Eno-grade landscape. And it only gets more daring from there. Self-released, self-produced, Rules marks Kids’ successful DIY return.  ★★★★☆



Broken Records Let Me Come Home (4AD)

Edinburgh, Scotland’s Broken Records sound a lot like other chamber-pop (think: maudlin cello, dour harpsichord) indie outfits, most of whom are influenced by the baroque Elephant 6 collective of the late ’90s. Today the collective’s children include the suburban angst of Arcade Fire and the classicism of The Decemberists. The trend’s annoying, but what saves Records’ second record from copycatdom is an eagerness to goth it up and go theatrically dark, as on horizon-expanding album opener “A Leaving Song,” which appends a moody bass guitar line to a joyous folk-pop hook. “Modern Worksong” updates R.E.M.’s blue-collar paean “Finest Worksong” with grinding piano-chord vamps and satanically bowed violins. But whichever label exec pushed Records to keep the band’s single, “A Darkness Rises Up,” on Home should be fired, and Arcade Fire should sue for infringement. Otherwise, a fine sophomore turn. ★★★☆☆

Mild Electro

Destroyer Kaputt (Merge)

With a name like Destroyer, you expect something cranked-up and deadly. Not so with Vancouver resident Daniel Bejar’s ongoing post-yacht pop project, which deals in soft-rock/acid jazz delight and may end up being among my 2011 Albums of the Year. From the synth-shimmering, sax-coated Christopher Cross-fire of “Chinatown,” to the sumptuously playful New Order-strapped-to-Love and Rockets dance-rock of “Savage Night at the Opera,” Kaputt simply cooks. Sure, there’s some irony at work here, especially in the way Bejar affixes aggressive song titles (“Bay of Pigs,” “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker”) to what’s essentially retro-’80s chill-wave of the highest order. But the results are never smarmy, always seductive. My only hesitation in giving four stars stems from the lame lyrics: “Wasting your days/Chasing some girls, all right/Chasing cocaine through the back rooms of the world all night.” Perhaps Bejar needs a co-writer? ★★★☆☆

Suggested Next Read

Sites to See


Sites to See

By Geoff Carter

SWEET SCIENCE ( I don’t know science, but I’ve got profanity down pat. For example, I may not be able to properly explain how crystals are formed, but I can tell you how to [expletive] yourself in the [expletive] [expletive] until the United [expletive] Nations is forced to intervene.