The Get Up Kids

How the Get Up Kids ruined underground music for my generation in 200 words or less: Late in 1996, when this Kansas band released their first seven inches, ear-to-the-ground indie kids went ballistic. The band's full-length debut, Four Minute Mile, fused post-punk staples (Braid, Jawbox), navel-gazing confessions and crunchy pop choruses. We talked about them on message boards, put them on mix tapes; they galvanized our definitions of "emo" as the emotionally relevant rebirth of punk for the Y Generation.

On their fourth full-length Guilt Show, the Get Up Kids bear no resemblance to those revolutionaries. The 14-track collection revs up with "Man of Conviction," one minute and 33 seconds of airbrushed mall-punk. Vocalist Matt Pryor begins the sing-along nonsense in an overly affected, pitch-corrected snarl. The other up-tempo singles ("Martyr Me," "How Long Is Too Long") employ more banal babble, but the slow jams' messages border on parody. "You're killin' me with sincerity," Pryor poses on "Dark Night of the Soul."

Where once there was meaning, now there is none. Worse, Guilt Show is evidence that the Get Up Kids--who fueled a counterculture revolution--somehow became a mechanism of the vapid commercialism they once opposed. Fans of the band's early singles can now feel ashamed of themselves. Or more accurately (with two words left): sold out.

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