Reflecting on: The Get Up Kids – Guilt Show


Throughout 2014, we’re going to be looking back on some of the best albums that were released 10 years ago and discussing their legacy. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the replies. Enjoy!

I’ve always considered The Get Up Kids’ Guilt Show as a kind of black sheep to their discography, and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the last full release from the band before their hiatus, or the fact that I was nervously nearing the end of high school as it came out.

Regardless of the reason why, 10 years on Guilt Show feels more like the bridge necessary to connect the band from 1999’s legendary Something To Write Home About with the sonic, indie fuzz rock of There Are Rules. It is the definite finale to the ‘classic’ Get Up Kids.

Let’s not kid ourselves; On A Wire is a good album. As the follow up album to STWHA though, it was kind of a letdown. The slow, softer tones of the album fell to the opposite side of the spectrum from the highly energized pop punk of their earlier works and caused a rift in the fan base at the time. Guilt Show wasn’t necessarily a return to the sound of their earlier work, but an aggressive extension of it.

Where STWHA was a punk heavy emo record and On A Wire was a subdued acoustical extension of that, Guilt Show was a pop heavy album that felt almost out of place. It was too poppy. I’ve always felt that the title Guilt Show reflected on the pressure to return to the frantic rock that the band was known for instead of experimenting further (like they did for There Are Rules).

Because of that, the album attacked relentlessly with heavy pop songs and frighteningly catchy choruses, as though the band were trying to shove the frantic rock sound down the throats of anyone disappointed with the previous album.

The first few times I listened to it, it felt like the album was constantly at odds against itself. Despite Guilt Show’s warm and upbeat music, the lyrical themes are rather dark.

The song “The One You Want” reflects over a failed relationship years in, where the couple in constant battle and realizing that it’s too late to be with anyone else. “Never Be Alone” starts with the incredibly wounding lines describing divorce, “Never love anyone else / A promise you made to yourself / There’s a box with his ring on the shelf / And it’s tarnished”.

At the time, I felt rather uneasy about it being the final album that The Get Up Kids put out. I enjoyed it, and most of the songs on it are still in my regular music rotation today, but it just never felt right. Looking back on it now, it’s easier to see where the album actually falls: as the bridge to connect their early work to their later, as the reward for anyone upset over On A Wire and the energy building towards There Are Rules.

Guilt Show shouldn’t be remembered as a definitive sound for The Get Up Kids, but as one of the reasons we fell in love with them originally: fast pop songs layered over dark and honest lyrics. Where it sits in anyone’s personal appeal is their own, but it shouldn’t be forgotten.

While Guilt Show shouldn’t be remembered as the definitive Get Up Kids sound, it’s an important record that ties together all of the differing writing styles and genres explored in the band’s ‘classic’ era. It’s a reaction to a scene that becomes too attached to one specific style and unwilling to allow a band to explore other directions while retaining the scorn and bleeding heart anthems that made the band famous to begin with.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.


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