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Morbid Stuff Review

Photo credit: PUP

     With harsh riffs that echo back to their older music, PUP finally dropped their third album, Morbid Stuff.

     PUP is an indie punk rock band from Toronto, Canada.  They came together in 2010 after three of the members: bassist Nestor Chumak, guitarist Steve Sladkowski, and drummer Zack Mykula, met the vocalist/guitarist Stefan Babcock.  The band started its life as Topanga, named after Boy Meets World actor, Topanga Matthews. This changed shortly after their first EP came out, Topanga EP (now renamed to Lionheart EP).  The name PUP came from Babcock’s grandmother, who instead of liking rock, said it was a, ”Pathetic use of potential.”

     In 2013 the band came out with their first album as PUP, a self-titled album comprised of seven songs.  This album hosted a wide variety of songs, from the song “Mabu”, inspired by the death of his family car, to “Lionheart”, a party fueled rock song worthy of much more praise than it gets.  In 2016 PUP came out with their second album, The Dream Is Over, the name of which was inspired by Babcock’s doctor, who told Babcock that his vocal chords were so damaged that “the dream is over.”  This album also consisted over very different types of songs, from the first track, “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will,” to the heavy rock song, “Sleep in the Heat.”  Not only does the band like to play loud, fast, and energetic rock music, they also take inspiration from other bands in the genre, like Grizzly Bear and Queens of the Stone Age.  They have a large variety of songs, both fast and slow, and they originally played lighter indie rock as Topanga.

     It has been three years since the last album, and after the long break they’re finally coming out with a third album Morbid Stuff.  Presented with delightful pastel pictures and great music videos, the current releases thus far have been amazing.  The two songs as of the 20nd of March are “KIDS” and “Free At Last”.  The music video for “KIDS” follows the characters they’ve set themselves up as in the other music videos.  Following a fictional version of their lives, the band members in this video experience life in the future, where Babcock abandoned the band and went into hiding.  The music video has many great moments, like when Chumak sees an old concert of theirs and the lyrics, “I should’ve tapped out, given in to my demons.” The song is about their early lives as musicians, and when they, as the title states, were kids.  The song mentions the 1997 Camry that the song “Mabu” was centered around, and even makes reference to Monty Python, with the line, “It’s alright it’s just a flesh wound.”

     The second song, “Free At Last”, was released in the form of chords and lyrics long before the band actually released the song, inspiring more than 250 people to do covers of it before it even released.  Many of these covers are featured in the music video, which spends almost two minutes showing off the performances. The video then goes into almost a tutorial on how to play it on every instrument they use.  These instructions are also interrupted by goofy editing and great uses of Photoshop and stock footage of concerts, with a sing-along scroll of text at the bottom of the screen. “Free At Last” focuses on an issue Babcock is attempting to break away from, saying “I was a compass without a map, a drifter on the side of the tracks, I was free at last, though I can’t escape it, but I can’t, and I won’t.”  Babcock has often struggled with alcoholism, and this song references how his unnamed lover reacted to that, and how his depression affected their relationship. This apathetic view of a semi-separated romance, with his lover being disinterested in his sadness, is a story much more nuanced than just some loud rock song.

 With nine other songs on the album, PUP has managed to put out yet another great album.  The slow tone of “Scorpion Hill” is starkly contrasted by the loud riffs of “Bloody Mary, Kate and Ashley”, and many of the other songs on the album help to broaden its range of tones.  This album has a great mix of music and is sure to please most rock fans.

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