Sunday Music: Morbid Stuff (PUP)

PUP has been putting out fun, punky-hardcore-singalong-type songs for almost 10-years and two things have happened:

1. They’ve gotten older

2. They keep getting better

The new album, Morbid Stuff is easily their best to date. Combining the big-sounding rock of Pinkerton-era Weezer, with a later period Descendants/All punk energy (complete with the occasional time signature change), and Front Bottoms-esque shaky vocals, poetic lyricism, and big-chorus singalongs, this album quite literally explodes.

Like the rest of us mere mortals, aging adds nuance and dimensionality. When an artist notices and adds it to the craft, amazing things happen. I can’t say what I’m hearing are their specific influences, but I can say the result is uniquely their own – and that’s a major, major accomplishment.

Most notably, beyond the anthemic nature of it all, are the way the lyrics fit into everything else. There’s a lot about death and dying here, but it’s all told through the lens of living. Living may be the opposite of death, but living also envelopes suffering and celebrating. PUP puts the full range of these spectrums on display lyrically, musically and dynamically. I’ll spare drawing a bunch of graphs and ask that you think about this album with contrast in mind. Major key, gang vocal choruses about personal sadness? Check. They’re painting a picture here people – well beyond the pink, party-murder album cover! Credit is due.

From the album’s opener (“Morbid Stuff”):

I was bored as fuck
Sitting around and thinking all this morbid stuff
Like if anyone I’ve slept with is dead and I got stuck
On death and dying and obsessive thoughts that won’t let up
It makes me feel like I’m about to throw up

To “Kids,” which is where the growing up aspects really start to come out (because you can’t call it “Kids” unless you decisively don’t identify as a kid anymore):

And I had it maxed out
I had a feeling, oh
Nothing is working
And everything’s bleeding, oh
I should’ve tapped out
Given into my demons, oh

It’s alright, it’s just a flesh wound
You said you’d never saw it coming
I’m pretty happy lying here with you
It’s pretty good to feel something

I don’t care about nothing but you
No, I don’t care about nothing
I don’t care about nothing but you
No, I don’t care about nothing

And “Scorpion Hill” where the weight and contrast really set in profoundly on a Canadian-Springsteen kind of sentiment:

Time and time again, well I’ve tried and failed
To get my act together
And I’ll admit lately things really went off the rails
I know that you deserve better
But in the morning, as I was boarding
The commuter train to work
The boss was calling, he said, “There’s been cutbacks and
I’m sorry you’re the first”
And If I can’t support the two of us
How can I support a third?

Down and out, I’ve been on the rocks
I’ve been having some pretty dark thoughts

And I’m on the brink
Fallin’ deep into debt
Fallin’ deep into drink
I can drown those regrets
I don’t have to think
Now I’m working the night shift
Asleep at the wheel
I was bursting apart like a flame from a spark
Thinkin’ “Jesus, this can’t be for real”

I am excited about this band. Maybe not for major commercial success (granted, they could turn out a Panic! At The Disco type hit and I wouldn’t be surprised), but this album should reach a much wider audience than anything they’ve put out previously. Give them a shot, they want your help on those backup vocals. They’ve earned mine.

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