The Toronto quartet PUP has gotten extremely good at an extremely intense version of pop-punk, one that wrings exhilarating fun out of life’s least pleasant emotions. On 2016 instant classic The Dream Is Over, they basically perfected the form. The band plays power-chord rock songs as loud and fast as possible, and Stefan Babcock’s nasally caterwaul spews anxious hooks all over them — sometimes reinforced by the whole gang — until your full body is clenched and your lungs are heaving from howling along. It’s deeply human music performed with a dynamism that feels humanly impossible.
Three years later, they’re back with Morbid Stuff, another collection of explosively catchy anthem/tantrums. As heard on advance singles “Kids,” “Free At Last,” “Sibling Rivalry,” and “Scorpion Hill,” PUP continue to write songs so tense you could snap them in two — or at least Babcock certainly sounds like he’s about to snap. In actuality, though, these tunes are far too sturdy to fall apart. They hit like reinforced steel beams. They’re more likely to snap you in half.
As the band members age into new life phases, the subject matter this time around has evolved from murderous band infighting to terror at the prospect of caring for a human child. But if PUP are growing up, they still sound about as vibrant and youthful as a rock band can. It’s invigorating. It’s harrowing. It rules. Fuck with it.
Morbid Stuff is out now on Little Dipper/Rise. Buy it here.