Review Summary: An act of rebellion
Following the success of their debut album, Toronto’s PUP began touring to the level of excess and insanity. Not only did they squash their goal to perform 200 shows in a year, they kept on going until they were forced off tour due to a serious vocal cord injury inflicted upon Stefan Babcock. It was nearly the demise of the band, with the vocalist recovering from a hemorrhaging cyst, and receiving doctor’s orders to quit touring altogether. Instead, the PUP vocalist simply mocked at the suggestion of quitting his dream, and used it as powerful ammunition for the band’s sophomore affair. As much an act of rebellion as it is a punk album, The Dream Is Over
is a highly satirical and raucous collection of punk tunes fueled by the band’s passion for making the loudest music possible.
The Dream is Over
is everything the band’s debut was and more. It’s angrier, louder, and at times, it’s downright hilarious. Their second chapter is told with a helping of dark humor and wit, like on opener ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I will’ in which Babcock scoffs at the idea of quitting his dream, and suggests the band members are on the verge of killing each other – I hate your guts and it makes me ill seeing your face every morning. One more month, and twenty two days, if this tour doesn’t kill you, I may.
It’s one hell of a way to kick off their sophomore effort, with rampant gang vocals shouted over the band member’s personal jabs at each other: I'm trying not to let you get in my head, but every word, every goddamn syllable that you say makes me wanna gouge out my eyes with a power drill.
If PUP knows anything, it’s how to promote an album properly. With three killer tracks dropping before the album as well as the band’s very own Nintendo game, the amount of intrigue surrounding their latest release was high to say the very least. Lead single ‘Dvp’ was a promise of things to come, with some of the most abrupt instrumentation ever conjured up by the band. The rest of The Dream is Over
delivers on this promise with an unrelenting sense of ferocity. ‘The Coast’ oozes with an abrasive demeanor, utilizing giant guitars as Babcock pushes his weathered vocal cords to the brink. This is followed up by the hardcore influenced ‘Old Wounds’, in which the band gets the opportunity to shamelessly bare their teeth. The track is nothing short of chaotic, with every band member releasing pent-up aggression in a violent fit of rage. Although it’s difficult to find any glaring faults in The Dream Is Over
, the instantly catchy ‘Can’t Win’ feels a bit formulaic by PUP’s standards, and its surrounding tracks can’t quite match the outrageous stamina of the album’s first half.
For a band known for their energetic live performances and their gritty music, The Dream is Over
is a fitting continuation of PUP’s snotty debut, with several notable improvements. For starters, the guitar-work is elevated to new heights of both skill and speed. Lead single ‘Dvp’ puts these improvements on full display, as the rapid guitars reach a breakneck pace as they attempt to keep up with Babcock’s relentless fury. Much like the amusing opening track, the song is ripe with humor as the singer reveals his relationship struggles: Your sister thinks that I’m a freak, she’s been ignoring my calls, we haven’t spoken in a week / I get so drunk that I can’t speak.
Although it was the first song to be released from the album, it still holds up steadily as one of the album’s fiercest cuts. If you find yourself wondering how the single could be even better, do yourself a favor and watch the official music video which pairs nostalgic video games (including Mario Bros. 3) with Babcock’s unabashedly grating vocals.
The Dream Is Over
is one of the most unapologetically over-the-top punk albums in recent memory, and fitting proof that Babcock’s vocals are still fully functional. Hearing him bounce back from his injury with even more angst and aggression than before is more than just mildly amusing, it’s completely thrilling. With one of the most unique voices in the punk scene, he’s spastically steering his band mates into the spotlight with the band’s sophomore effort. Beneath the rowdy gang vocals, biting lyrics, and turbulent instrumentation lies a youthful energy that would be a challenge for any band to replicate. Despite Babcock nearly destroying his vocals upon hundreds of back to back performances, the dream is anything but over for PUP, and their latest effort is a defiant middle finger outstretched to anyone who says otherwise. Much like hanging out with a bunch of drunken frat boys, they might be a bit on the obnoxious side, but you’re certainly guaranteed a good time. The best part of all? There’s no hangover.