Album review: Morbid Stuff by PUP

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Looking for your favourite album of the summer? Look no further.

Now here’s a band I’ve been sleeping on for a while.

PUP is a small band from Toronto who has exploded in popularity lately. Since forming in 2011, they’ve played shows all over the world, toured with bands like Hollerado, The Wonder Years, and The Menzingers, and played countless festivals including Osheaga, Warped Tour and Lollapalooza. They even appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers, so they’ve definitely begun to break out in the vital U.S. market.

I always had PUP on my radar, and tons of my friends and people I’d met at concerts were always recommending them. Toronto has a tendency to really rally around their popular local acts like July Talk, Arkells, and now PUP, so I was always hearing about the band on the radio or social media, but never actually heard any of their music.

Boy, have I been missing out.

PUP released their newest album Morbid Stuff this week, and it’s going to be on heavy rotation this summer.

Sound

Morbid Stuff is the perfect combination of punk, emo and indie, and their early ska roots shine through from time to time. Each song is fast-paced yet varied enough to keep it interesting, and it makes me want to dig out my longboard from hibernation and go for a ride around in the sunshine without a care in the world.

The way the vocals are mixed on songs like “Bare Hands” give you the feeling that you’re at a show, with the slight echo – or is it called reverb? (I have no idea, I know nothing about music). Either way, it sounds like everyone is packed into a small venue, singing along and having a good time.

If you like Bomb the Music Industry!, Sum 41 or Tokyo Police Club, definitely check out Morbid Stuff.

Lyrics

The lyrics remind me of being in high school, thinking the world was against me and dreaming of busting out of my hometown at 18 and never looking back. The album, on first listen, sounds quite upbeat and cheery – but the lyrics reflect vocalist and songwriter Stefan Babcock’s struggles with depression and can be quite, well, morbid.

But I like that about the album. Songs about depression and loss and heartbreak that don’t actually make you feel sad are so important. The lyrics are extremely relatable, yet the music is upbeat enough that it doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut.

I asked how you've been 
Not that it's any of my business
But you know me, I've always been a little masochistic

“See You At Your Funeral” – PUP

Top songs

Kids” – It took me a while to figure out what this song reminded me of, but it’s definitely got “Underclass Hero” by Sum 41 vibes going on. As the second song on the album, it really helps set the stage for what to expect, with pretty dark lyrics and themes of depression and hopelessness. But it’s a fun listen, nevertheless, and it’s a great angsty teen anthem.

Scorpion Hill” – This song tells a sad tale of a man trying to make ends meet to support his family, and some of the lyrics really fit the name of the album. But it’s the style of the song that I really like, because it follows the same sort of structure as a folk song by Mumford & Sons, with a slower first verse and the music picking up suddenly after that.

City” – Morbid Stuff follows the regular structure of having a slower song close out the album. The final track “City” slows things right down, but stays in tune with the rest of the album as it talks of love, loss and depression. The last verse picks things up again, though, and has some of those Sum 41 vibes that run through the rest of the album.

The final verdict

★★★★★ — Though PUP may not have as wide of an appeal as Canadian sweethearts Arkells, I firmly believe everyone should check out Morbid Stuff. While most of the lyrics fit the album title very well, the album doesn’t drag you down — the beat lifts you up and will leave you longing for the warm summer months.

There isn’t a song on the album that I dislike, and the album follows a similar style throughout while remaining varied enough so it doesn’t sound like the same song over and over.

Check out the album on Spotify here!

But don’t take my word for it…

Pitchfork: 7.9/10 — Ian Cohen acknowledges that sad lyrics don’t have to make you sad, calling Morbid Stuff a “safe, sweaty space to process your worst feelings,” alluding to the dark themes and catchy tunes that run throughout the album (Source).

NME: ★★★★☆ — Tom Connick calls the album “refreshing and sarcastic,” and praises the upbeat guitar lines and drumming for “keeping things from following the lyrical trudge into gloom” (Source).

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