If you’ve ever wondered what the dark-side of Canadian hospitality sounds like, pop this album in.
PUP has been making music since guitarist Steve Sladowski, bassist Nestor Chumak, and drummer Zack Mykula met as Toronto schoolboys in the third grade. Since then, they’ve been named by Rolling Stone as one of 2014’s “breakout rock acts.” PUP’s third album Morbid Stuff is a dangerous cocktail of Modest Mouse shaking hands with The Frights shaking hands with Neutral Milk Motel. Our anarchic vocalist Stefan Babcock is dangerously angry at the music industry, social mechanics, and the expectations that come with growing up. But this isn’t just some misplaced protest that gets lost in the rubble as time goes by. Morbid Stuff is rather a timeless school of thought that encourages us to think twice before going along with what the world demands, and when the time comes, to get mad it.
The first two tracks on this brutally blunt album are “Morbid Stuff” where the album gets its moniker, and “Kids.” Whether it be lyricist Stefan Babcock getting caught up “on death and dying and obsessive thoughts that won’t let up,” or “the mind-numbing reality of a godless existence,” these two tracks poke fun at the nature of modern social structure and ask us what the point is. PUP quantifies the confusion behind a mid-life crisis. Not only that, but they allow you to step inside the business suit that comes after all of us eventually and hear what that moment sounds like.
It’s clear that the band is looking for purpose, each one of them taking up a torch against reality whether it be Mykula’s murderous war-drum percussion, or Sladowski’s car-crash guitar riffs. My only question is does the Canadian chaos distract us from the argument of the album, or is it the argument itself?
In certain cases, I’d say yes. “Full Blown Meltdown” is 9th track we hear from PUP on the album. Although it is teeming with dark and comical anecdotes such as “popping the good shit with the boys at the office,” the song is overcrowded with noise, to the point that I lose sight of the story behind Morbid Stuff.
But, after giving it some thought, I realized the whole point of this album is to not read into it. Take noise for noise and stop trying to hear it as only one thing. Babcock writes in his song “Full Blown Meltdown” “you shouldn’t take it so seriously, it’s just music after all.”
With regret for the past, discontentment with the current moment, and uncertainty on what’s to come, PUP’s Morbid Stuff is a rocky trip through time that takes note of the helplessness that comes with growing up. It’s a universal pressure that we feel on all our backs eventually whether we’re from Toronto or Los Angeles. PUP brings out the tired soldier inside us all and asks us to give it one more go.
There’s a certain bond that the band carries between each other. Both through music and third-grade history, it’s clear that PUP would take a bullet for a bandmate. It’s this sense of comradery and shared anger with the wrongdoings of the world that bleeds through on the album.
No matter how dark things get come tomorrow, I can’t help but laugh at how PUP will be there to tell it like it is and go against the Canadian grain yet again.