PUP - Morbid Stuff (Album Review)

Thursday, 11 April 2019 Written by Ben Gladman

Photo: Vanessa Heins

Since the release of their explosive debut in 2013, PUP have hurtled along a knife-edge between joy and despair with such velocity that it’s been impossible to look away.

The Toronto punks have always been unlikely stars, even going as far as to quote a dire prognosis from singer Stefan Babcock’s doctor for the title of their second LP, ‘The Dream Is Over’, when it looked like he would never sing again. Since then, though, their popularity has sky-rocketed.

‘Morbid Stuff’ finds the group tentatively moving on from their underdog status without taking too many risks. It’s by no means a bad album, but it nevertheless finds them covering similar ground without the same sense of raw excitement as before.

Sonically, the record will thrill anyone with a penchant for blistering riffs and catchy hooks just as well as their older material did. Half the tracks here stick instantly, with triumphant choruses and lyrics so emphatic in their cynicism they feel ready-made to electrify any sticky-floored venue around the world. 

The production is better than ever: the guitars are powerful and thick yet always clear, while the drums carry some serious weight and keep the trickier rhythms ticking to perfection. Just as well, because despite their poppier tendencies, PUP don’t mind playing around with rhythm. On the title track, for example, whole measures are dropped seemingly on a whim.

With his lyrics, Babcock hits the same themes of death and self-destruction as before, only this time with a slight twist. While exes still sneer at his boozing (“Have you been drinking? Well of course I have.”) he takes a step back and satirises the clichés on highlight Full Blown Meltdown: “You shouldn't take it so seriously. It's just music after all, and half the crap I say is just things I've stolen from the bathroom walls of shitty venues across America.”

While the song itself is a riotous, screaming mess in the best possible way, these lyrics capture the main problem with this album—it's become increasingly difficult to tell who the joke is on. PUP have never been about thinking too hard, focusing instead on about raw emotion, and while these gags are fun they muddy the waters to such an extent that it feels as though the album pushes us away just as we’re beginning to connect.

If you can look past the fact that this has all been done before, and get swept away by the sheer rebellious energy of the music, then ‘Morbid Stuff’ is perfect. If, however, you’re looking for something deeper, then you may find PUP’s sound beginning to wear a little thin.

Pup Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu April 11 2019 - LEEDS Brudenell Community Room
Fri April 12 2019 - GLASGOW Cathouse
Tue August 20 2019 - BRISTOL Rough Trade
Wed August 21 2019 - NOTTINGHAM Rough Trade
Thu November 21 2019 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Fri November 22 2019 - BRISTOL SWX
Sat November 23 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy 2 Birmingham
Mon November 25 2019 - LEEDS Stylus
Tue November 26 2019 - GLASGOW Garage
Thu November 28 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Riverside
Fri November 29 2019 - MANCHESTER O2 Academy 2 Manchester
Sat November 30 2019 - SOUTHAMPTON Loft

Click here to compare & buy Pup Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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