You know, I didn’t really like the first two albums from The New Amsterdams. That said, Matt Pryor, lead singer of The Get Up Kids, third release as frontman of the Amsterdams is nothing short of a success. While earlier efforts by the threesome from Kansas erred on the dreary side of emo, “Worse for the Wear” picks up the pace while sacrificing none of the subtleties that make Pryor and his mates so infectious. Looking for a banjo and a tambourine? Try “Asleep at the Wheel”. A keyboard full of effects? “Are You True” or “Hanging on for Hope” have got you covered. Perfect harmonies? Try “From California”, one of the many highlights on this wonderfully textured album.
While the entire album permeates a decidedly Mid-Western barroom feel, Pryor’s lyrics remain as universal as ever, as he savagely croons, “Your arrows don’t have poison but they still bruise” from “Poison in the Ink” and “I find your speech motivating, watching life passing by on the screen/ Just flicking fading, with a plot like you wouldn’t believe” from the title track. Yep, The New Amsterdams have put together an LP that rocks with a smile on its face and a song in its heart. And it’s a hell of a song, too.