Rating: 4 stars
PUP, an abbreviation for Pathetic Use of Potential, is a punk band from Toronto and this year they released the album “Morbid Stuff” which feels like the kind of pop-punk with the angsty energy we all needed. PUP fits the neat mold of punchy pop-punk with witty lyrics and melodic but cutting guitar lines. At 36 minutes, the album keeps itself reasonably short and does a decent job of not being too repetitive by pushing the same topics or emotions for too long.
Music like the songs on “Morbid Stuff” makes you wonder if lots of good music is just secretly pop music, with all the infectiousness in stock. The album’s second track “Kids” is a good example of this. The lyrics touch on plenty of pop-punk themes of youthful emotions, mistakes and the anxieties of young people. The choruses are anthemic and are perfect to scream with friends, while the guitar provides upbeat, dancy energy.
The length of the album is pretty standard, but what is interesting is how PUP maintains the same energy throughout. There aren’t really any slow songs, instead, they keep yelling and commiserating about the struggles of being young. The rare times they appear to be slowing down they really end up punching just as hard as usual. For instance, the song “Scorpion Hill,” gives the impression of an acoustic ballad before returning to racing along with frantic energy. Songs like this are emblematic of the way that PUP sounds very similar to the pop-punk style they are a part of. But PUP also succeeds in not letting up in energy. Even if they aren’t being totally original they are still doing what they do quite well.
Later in the album songs like “Sibling Rivalry” are evidence that the sound they are producing doesn’t get old or tiring, or end up turning into a sort of parody of other songs which can happen when an artist continues to produce similar sounding songs. This song features another cutting guitar melody which weaves in and out among the equally catchy vocal melodies. “Sibling Rivalry” is a good example of how PUP produces quite striking and polished vocal harmonies, showing how even if their songs may describe a more lax person, as musicians they will not be seen as such.
PUP’s “Morbid Stuff” is pretty self-aware in that the album is filled with a lot of morbid stuff, but the album is much more than that. While most of the songs depict hopelessness or a feeling of loss, there is hope in the outlet the band provides for people to find connection with their music. People can listen or go to a show and feel connected, realizing that there are people that feel the same or are going through a similar trouble. PUP follows a respectable punk lineage, crafting tirelessly energetic songs that are equal parts biting and fun.