PUP - THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND (Album Review)

Thursday, 07 April 2022 Written by Emma Wilkes

Photo: Vanessa Heins

PUP are a band who laughs at themselves because, otherwise, they’d cry rainstorms. They’ve done a pretty good job of running with that idea all things considered—the shiny JUNO award (essentially a Canadian Grammy) on their mantelpiece certainly says so, as do millions of streams and thousands of packed shows.

There’s a sense on their fourth album, though, that they’re all too aware of this. So, naturally, they take it in their stride in a way that only PUP could: by drily ripping into it.

Opener Four Chords is the lynchpin of this gloriously meta concept, with frontman Stefan Babcock narrating in his scratchy, nasal tones a “quarterly meeting” between “the Board of Directors” over, well, four piano chords, before a strange burst of muddled orchestra and guitar noise brings the song to a jarring conclusion. 

It’s beautifully left field, and it only gets better when it’s reprised later for a chuckle-worthy Four Chords Pt II: Five Chords as a fed up Babcock votes “to end democracy in this fucking band”. Rather than changing beyond recognition as they’ve grown in size, PUP’s sense of self has almost exploded, and it’s nothing but enjoyable. 

But ‘The Unraveling of Puptheband’ is not an album that’s all style and no substance—it’s got the tunes to justify its own hype. Waiting deftly combines stony guitar riffs with a fantastically punchy chorus, while Habits blossoms from faintly glitchy into an emotionally overflowing punk rocker waltz. 

The best sides of this band—considered yet gritty instrumentals and quirky songwriting—come together in the delicate Robot Writes A Love Song, a charming number about a computer malfunctioning under the sheer force of human emotion that’s handled with just the right amount of sentimentality. 

With buckets of character on display, a refined balance of scrappiness and grace and no song that sounds too similar to the ones before or after, the Torontonians have made their case for why they’ve made it this far. Their path is only going up from here.

Pup Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed October 12 2022 - LEEDS Beckett Students Union
Thu October 13 2022 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Fri October 14 2022 - LONDON Roundhouse
Sun October 16 2022 - GLASGOW SWG3
Mon October 17 2022 - DUBLIN Academy 2
Wed October 19 2022 - BRIGHTON Chalk
Thu October 20 2022 - BRISTOL SWX
Fri October 21 2022 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute

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