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The Get Up Kids 

On a Wire (Vagrant)

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The emo backlash will be worse than anything you can imagine. Scads of grad students in black-framed glasses with wispy guitars, slyly poppy vocals, wannabe punk dynamics, and lyrics that sound heartfelt -- but really don't make a goddamn bit of sense -- will all meet their doom. It will be worse than the death of disco. Of hair metal. Of swing, even.

These people will not be working at car washes two years from now, for we will have shot them all.

Incidentally, Kansas City's Get Up Kids have a new record. All of the above descriptors apply, crossed with hooky pop-punk mayhem. Think of them as a more inscrutable Blink-182, famous for writing really great bad songs: "Better Half," "Valentine." But On a Wire smells the apocalyptic emo backlash coming, and, lordy lordy, does it run like hell.

Start, as yon disc does, with "Overdue," overdosed on acoustic guitars and Super-Sensitive Guy vocals, as if singer Matt Pryor thinks he's gonna turn into Pete Yorn all of a sudden. From there it's stilted, subdued, and static pop with no bite, no hooks, no pulse.

You wait eight songs for a good one: "Walking on a Wire" busts out the piano and makes fine ballad fare. "The Worst Idea" comes closest to standard-issue Get Up Kids, dumbass keyboard part and all. But these tunes are far from transcendent, and they certainly won't transcend a disc as lazy and indistinct as this one. Ready, aim, fire.

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