Review Summary: the head aches, the ears ring, but the teeth show
That abrasive shift in key towards the latter half of Guilt Trip
is quintessential PUP – creative, belligerent and totally fucking rock, man
; it’s the sort of event that crashes into a wall. On the other side of that wall, it's all about the riffs, the overdrive, the stagedives. Self-titled is a remarkably streamlined affair, and PUP sprints the distance, because punk has never taken kindly to marathons.
Every now and again I come back to the Dark Days
music video. Legitimately, the clip is like an unusually realistic Adult Swim cartoon: it’s insalubrious, confronting, depressing and – above all else – genuinely inspiring. I think there’s something in the fact that a band’s ethos can make me want to get chewed up and spat out by a bouncer, to play to empty rooms and to break friendships over a bruised and battered knee, but this record is truly alive with the energy of a thousand dingy venues. I’m going to buy a shi
tty old van, and I’m going to fill it with old friends and even older instruments.
Wherever it’s being performed, the record remains relentless as it, contrarily, keeps a clear head. The thing is frenzied and breakneck but maintains its acerbic wit, the way Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
would play out if Wilco took Adderall before entering the studio. The frayed-wire 5/4 meter of Mabu
skips nimbly along like a dulled stone on a frozen lake before sinking momentarily into the track’s chorus, and similar dynamics paint this record something lively and unique within its niche.
Pop-punk (a subgenre which I don’t think PUP occupies, but I digress), in all its iterations, is pigeonholed by a compulsive dependence on power-chords; in which the same, shrieking progressions are copied verbatim and repackaged by the next group of suburban kids that grew up on Enema of the State
. Atop a pyramid of compacted car bodies (with dear old Mabu in its midst), PUP stare down at the zeitgeist, preferring instead to write progressions and melodic lines that twist and dart across the neck like a gymnast on a giant’s shoulders. See - if you will - the frenetic ascent in Yukon’s solo
, or the verses on Guilt Trip
as the guitar punctures the mix in 9/4, then 6/4, then 7/4 and back again. I always pull my neck out headbanging. I am okay with this.
I want to go to a PUP show. I want to sweat through my best shirt in the front row. I want to do away with my vocal chords while screaming the chorus during Back Against The Wall
. Mostly though, I just want more people to pay attention to this record and its vivacity. PUP is a charged album – it’s the spark to a fi-… No wait. It’s just the fire, vital and burning a vivid yellow. Eventually, the light will falter and will fade, but at least we’ll have something to sing into the darkness.