PUP – ‘Morbid Stuff’

By Andy Joice

If you don’t already know PUP, it leads us to ask – where the fuck have you been? Their sophomore album ‘The Dream Is Over’ was one of the best records of 2016, jam packed with punchy punk classics. From the hilarious, anthemic ‘DVP’ to the meaty, macabre ‘The Coast’, it’s an instant classic. Which surely makes it difficult to follow-up, right? Well, worry not, dear readers. ‘Morbid Stuff’ more than meets the high expectations the Canadian quartet have already set themselves.

It’s difficult to place PUP into any one genre. There’s elements of pop-punk, but they’re not totally pop-punk. There’s a hint of punk rock, but not enough to classify them in the same vein as Bad Religion and NOFX. In reality, they’re most likely an amalgamation of both, as well as garage punk and DIY. But that’s what makes them so special – and so beloved by fans of all those genres.

Though they’re reluctant to refer to themselves as DIY, they are. Case in point – they spent the first part of 2019 building their own label, Little Dipper, with ‘Morbid Stuff’ being the first release.

While the core components remain the same, there are definitely new PUP elements within this album. ‘See You At Your Funeral’ maintains a very Beatles-esque chord progression throughout, closing with a gentle piano outro that would fit nicely into ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

Back in March, they released a double single, ‘Sibling Rivalry’ and ‘Scorpion Hill’. The latter is a bold choice for a single, being the longest track they’ve ever released. Opening with vocalist Stefan Babcock’s fragile vocals accompanied by an acoustic guitar, it’s considerably slower than most PUP songs, before bounding into their trademark frenetic mash of melodies and rolling drum lines. A reflection on ‘embracing your demons and finding humour in the darkness’, it’s as darkly cynical as we’ve come to expect. Closing with a similar acoustic melody as the outro, it intertwines with some well-placed accordion chords – another first for the foursome.

It would be easy to say that this album was full of cynical observations and admissions, and it is, but it’s still laced with their trademark wit, peppering every song – ‘Bloody Mary Kate And Ashley’ is a prime example of how deliciously dark their humour is. Riffing on urban legends, Babcock talks to a ghostly figure in the mirror and performs satanic rituals with pentagrams of fire, but is unsure whether the apparitions are real, or it’s too much drink and drugs creating the monsters. Culminating in the chorus “are you real or fake? Do you prefer Ashley or Mary Kate”, it’s that silliness that makes them so loveable.

Perhaps the tenderest song since ‘The Dream Is Over’ track ‘Pine Point’, closer ‘The City’ is equally slow and pensive. Almost bordering on post-hardcore, there’s distortion, dissonance and an atmosphere that feels like PUP are about to start heading in a whole new musical direction. Similar to ‘Pine Point’, it’s a chance to relax after the oral beating you’ve taken over the previous 30+ minutes. A chance to breathe before starting the album all over again.

For a band that have produced two spectacular albums already, ‘Morbid Stuff’ doesn’t miss a beat and maintains that exceptionally high standard. It’s dark. It’s angsty. It’s hilarious. Frankly, if this doesn’t end up near the top of your Album Of The Year lists, I’ll be gobsmacked.

ANDY JOICE

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