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Royole FlexPai Review: Hands-on

The Royole FlexPai is the first flexible phone, but it shows that we still have a long way to go before bending your phone becomes routine
Should I Buy The Royole FlexPai?
‘Fun but flawed’ is really the only sensible reaction to the FlexPai right now. The foldable display tech is genuinely impressive, but you can’t escape the feeling that it’s not quite there yet.
Laggy software, a plasticky finish, and worrying evidence of screen burn mean that right now the FlexPai feels like a sign of where phones are going - but proof that they’re not there just yet.

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The Get Up Kids - Kicker EP Music Album Reviews

The Get Up Kids - Kicker EP Music Album Reviews
After nearly 20 years of playing against their strengths, the Get Up Kids jump on the “adult emo” bandwagon and recapture the punk immediacy of their late-’90s heyday.

In the second half of the 1990s, the Get Up Kids fostered a thriving DIY punk scene in a landlocked college town, knocked out their debut in a weekend with Bob Weston of Shellac, and turned down major-label offers. Put aside the love songs, and their classic Something to Write Home About can be read as a concept album about the pressure of seeing then-fledgling indie label Vagrant literally bet the farm on their success. But they also wrote concisely and passionately about girls, heartbreak, and trouble with authority, thus setting the norms for 21st-century emo: While the band’s presentation and ethics were overtly punk, their songs harkened back to early rock’n’roll records that functioned as teen pop.

The seven years since the Get Up Kids released their first reunion album, 2011’s There Are Rules, however, have seen the rise of the apparently oxymoronic subgenre “adult emo.” Now in their late 30s and early 40s, bands like Braid, American Football, Brand New, Jimmy Eat World, and Taking Back Sunday are maturing, often with vital results. And that same “adult emo” outlook makes Kicker the most satisfying Get Up Kids release in nearly 20 years.

“We’ve been playing with this idea about how you can translate the ‘emo themes’... into feelings that are relevant to being an adult,” frontman Matt Pryor recently explained. This wasn’t always an option: Many emo acts were brutalized by the early 2000s. The commercial breakthroughs of Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional, as well as their own drive to transcend their genre tag, led bands drastically change their sounds. Maybe because their name included the word “kids,” the Get Up Kids had it the worst. Produced by R.E.M. mainstay Scott Litt, their 2002 album On a Wire rebranded the band with acoustic ballads and mid-tempo moodiness. Scorned by fans for not sounding enough like “Coming Clean,” the record was mocked by critics because it still sounded like the Get Up Kids. 2004’s similarly mellow Guilt Show failed to change that narrative. Seven years later, after breaking up and reuniting, they released There Are Rules, a competent indie-rock record made in relative anonymity.

While the motivations behind the Get Up Kids’ stylistic swerves are understandable, those three albums add up to nearly 20 years of the band playing against their strengths. Kicker negates that history in about 14 minutes. The four songs on the EP are all uptempo, in major keys, and nearly the same length. The frilliest instrumental touch is a tambourine. In their original incarnation, on tracks as different as “Holiday” and “Overdue,” the Get Up Kids used melody, velocity, and urgency to signify investment and interpersonal unity. Maybe they were having fun on There Are Rules, but on Kicker they effortlessly recapture that old energy. Built on the simple sentiments of their titles, the hooks on “I’m Sorry,” “Maybe,” and “Better This Way” are memorable at first listen. This is how the Get Up Kids flex craft.

Immediacy can have its drawbacks, though, and “I’m Sorry” also shows the other side of the coin. Its verses find Pryor promising not to be an asshole, but the imagery he relies on (burning bridges, building walls) is too simple and impersonal to have much of an impact. Luckily, the chorus is enough to sell the song—a rougher, rawer take on the Get Up Kids’ version of anthemic punk. Close your eyes, and it doesn’t sound so far off from their new Polyvinyl labelmates Beach Slang or recent Superchunk.

The EP format has always served the Get Up Kids well—and if Kicker doesn’t prove to be as essential or experimental as Woodson, Simple Science, or Red Letter Day, maybe that’s by design. The band is set to record a new LP for release in 2019, a year that will mark the 20th anniversary of Something to Write Home About. They must sense the nostalgia coming: In the video for guitarist and co-songwriter Jim Suptic’s triumphant “Better This Way,” an extra is wearing the same T-shirt drummer Ryan Pope sported in the clip for “Action & Action,” a beloved Something single that epitomizes the emo sound and style of 1999. And the hook on the EP’s lead single, “Maybe,” echoes the melody of “My Apology,” another track from that classic album. These small acknowledgments of past triumphs reverberate throughout Kicker: The Get Up Kids have finally reopened a dialogue with their younger selves.

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