PUP – ‘The Dream Is Over’

By Ben Tipple

Out of their many contemporaries, Toronto’s PUP are the masters of combining their brash punk attitude with a rock and roll swagger; one that best presents itself on album closer ‘Pine Point’. Similar to ‘Yukon Valley’, the comparably downtempo number from their seminal 2014 self-titled breakthrough, the track sees PUP at their most expansive. It’s a heartfelt end to an otherwise blistering bulldozer of a record that presents the four piece as simultaneously despondent and exhilarated.

Named following vocalist Stefan Babcock’s brush with potentially career ending vocal cord damage, ‘The Dream Is Over’ is fundamentally defiant. The middle finger appears instantly as they launch into opener ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’, mirroring the song’s message with their sheer brazenness. If Babcock had been told to slow down, there are no signs of it here. Instead it takes everything that made their self-titled strong and pushes it even further.

In doing so, ‘The Dream Is Over’ isn’t a huge departure from their initial sound. Yet that’s far from a problem considering the niche they so readily laid out on the debut. As ‘Pine Point’ presents them at their most sensitive, ‘Old Wounds’ is them at their most venomous. Both showcase PUP’s abundant versatility, still sitting within the confines of coherence that ultimately makes ‘The Dream is Over’ play out as a complete journey.

In its ten tracks, the record never shies away from its assured “fuck it” attitude. There’s a confidence in its doubt, a vibrant acceptance of the uncontrollable. “What’s left to lose,” Babcock questions on the aptly titled ‘Doubts’. “If I came home right now, what would I find out,” he asks on the album’s mantra of sorts, ‘My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier’. If this is it, PUP affirm, then so be it. They did it their way and will continue to do so, the lyrical troubles blending perfectly with their assertive punk-rock. It’s an acceptance of their anxieties. And the dream firmly lives on under their own terms, as insecure as those may be.

BEN TIPPLE

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