PUP is the band that you don’t know you love… yet. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, this four-piece is the best-kept secret in punk rock, a band that continuously delivers deliciously vigorous tunes that will leave your heart lusting for more. We have arrived, in 2019, at the apex of the band’s career to date with the release of their third, and most-anticipated studio album, Morbid Stuff and with a run of sold-out shows throughout UK and Europe.
The announcement of the band’s shows on the continent was met with elation, with events selling out in just hours. London, most notably, appeared to sell out in record time. The result of this? A gig fuelled by nothing but pandemonium. There were even adoring fans searching for tickets on the event’s Facebook page hours after doors had opened, hoping there would be a chance that they could catch a glimpse of the band in the flesh. The Garage, Highbury. April 10th. London in Spring. This was their time.
It is quite normal for a band to release singles in the run-up to an album, but PUP’s choice to release four; Kids, Sibling Rivalry, Free at Last and Scorpion Hill, came as somewhat of a shock to me. Although the anticipation for fans to have something from the band since the adored release of The Dream is Over in 2016, this felt to be a little bit of an overkill. However, I will concede that – as per usual – I was wrong. Each of these four songs offers the listener something different and give you a window to peer into the many diverse layers that Morbid Stuff has to offer.
Kids, the first taste of Morbid Stuff, is truly a jewel on the crown of this album. With a lacey riff and a frilly chorus, this track is an eclectic mix of PUP’s talents. Continuously slipping between winding verses and belting hooks, this track does everything and is a real ambassador for how impressive the band’s latest release is. After the band had opened their London set with the introductory Morbid Stuff, it was time for Kids to kick the party off. The room erupted into a crescendo of voices, screaming the easily recognisable gang vocals back at the band and even humming the guitar solo at the stage. My favourite single of the year so far? Undoubtedly.
Sibling Rivalry is a single that I felt people had been sleeping on a little bit. Having read multiple reviews of Morbid Stuff upon its release, no one seemed to be talking about this track. For me, the gang vocals found in the chorus of this song are the strongest on the album (a huge plaudit when discussing a band who uses them as heavily and masterfully as PUP do). The riff of this track is utterly and unflinchingly vein squeezing. What more do you want? Luckily, this song seemed to receive the recognition it deserved at The Garage, with people bouncing and dancing along – screaming lyrics such as “You’re up to no good and I can’t take it” at the band.
Free at Last was, also, incredibly well received. Partially due to the band’s creative release of this single – which saw fans try to work out what the song would sound like before it was released – it is without a doubt, a fan favourite. The audience was warmed up at this point, and Free at Last seemed to be the catalyst that brought the room to the boil.
The soft introduction to Scorpion Hill gets me every time. It is one of my favourite moments on the album, and naturally, this respite translated nicely into the band’s live performance. Before you get too comfortable with this one, ballsy guitar chords get thrown in your face and then before you know it… it detonates. The hook of “I’ve been having some pretty dark thoughts” and the softer, harmonised gang vocals in the breakdown are some of my favourite parts of the record. The audience sang back at the band in a 600-strong choir, who loved every moment of it.
I must confirm before I move into this section that ‘The Body’ of this feature in no way refers to any music that could be classed to be ‘filler’, but instead refers the scaffolding of the band and their performance – the parts that contain the vital and irreplaceable organs. Anyway…
Bloody Mary, Kate and Ashley is unbelievably technical and in my opinion, was unlucky to miss out on the setlist. It feels like it has parts of five different songs blended into one – which works exceptionally well.
Flaring drums. Check.
The works? You best believe it.
See You at Your Funeral stands out among the rest of the songs on Morbid Stuff, acting as the volta of the record. This track feels as though it constantly dips in and out of consciousness (in a good way!) as a result of the vocals that are slippery, yet punchy. The song wanders to a soft conclusion, laying the perfect foundation for the rest of the album to pick up where the first few songs left off. In a similar vein, City is an important tune. With the unenviable task of closing the record, it opens with soft vocals that mirror a night-time walk through a sketchy park and closes with a piercing, gut-spinning riff. This track contorts and leaves you to think about where the album, as a whole, has taken you.
Closure is another track from Morbid Stuff that I think needs to be spoken about. This song arrives like a slap in the face. The lyric “yeah I was looking for something to stop them scabs from falling off” is one of the best on the record as it aptly encompasses the brute nature of the track. Furthermore, the bass guitar in this song is magnificent and adds an exceptionally perfect layer to the song. The band captured this energy of this track perfectly live, keeping the room entertained and pinning for more.
Dark Days and Sleep in the Heat, understandably, kept up the energy that Closure injected into the set. As some fan-favourites from the band’s back catalogue, the room erupted into cheers during the opening notes of these songs before everyone in the room began to empty their voices during the choruses. I have to admit, I have not been in a room quite as adoring and choral as that in a long time, if ever. Nothing short of special.
There is an elephant in the room.
Full Blown Meltdown – the song I definitely wanted and needed.
This is PUP stripped down to their core – a full-fledged fucking punk band. Riffs galore, a bass line that makes me fear that the instrument is the victim of GBH and the breakdown, oh the breakdown, so cold that it feels like you have headbutted an ice sculpture. The lyric “make no mistake, I know exactly what I am doing” is so apt. Just listen to this song and you will understand. It is a travesty that this track didn’t make it into the setlist and I can only hope that when the band return in the autumn, they bring it with them.
Now, what can I say about the rest of the songs that did feature in the London set? Just carnage. Reservoir and Familiar Patterns brought the room to over-boil, kicking up a fuss within the crowd. Both of these songs are staples in the band’s lineage and received the sing-a-longs that they both deserve. The band joked that they were not an ‘encore’ band and they don’t see the point in them, but I have a sneaking feeling that if Morbid Stuff gets the reception that I think it deserves, then it won’t be too long until they have no choice to introduce one into their performances. Of course, this meant that it was time for THOSE two tracks.
Yep, you guessed it – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You Then I Will and DVP. Effortlessly slipping into one another, these two songs had to be the highlight of the performance – as I am sure they are in every city, during every set that the band perform. These two were a party. The best way to end the evening. If you are really reading this and have never listened to them, or the band in general then stop. Educate yourself.
Tearing down London, this performance rightly introduced the world to Morbid Stuff. An album that deserves critical acclaim, this is the time for you to start paying attention.
PUP. Your favourite band, right?
Listen to Morbid Stuff on Spotify
Buy tickets to see the band upon their return to the UK/EU in November:
6 – Amsterdam, Melkweg
7 – Cologne, Luxor
9 – Copenhagen, Loppen
10 – Hamburg, Knust
11 – Berlin, Bi Nuu
13 – Vienna, Club Chelsea
14 – Munich, Backstage Halle
15 – Milan, Ohibo
17 – Antwerp, Trix
18 – Paris, Le Trabendo
21 – London, Electric Ballroom
22 – Bristol, SWX
23 – Birmingham, O2 Academy2
25 – Leeds, Stylus
26 – Glasgow, Garage
28 – Newcastle, Riverside
29 – Manchester, Academy 2
30 – Southampton, Loft
Also, follow the band on: