PUP
Morbid Stuff


4.5
superb

Review

by Atari STAFF
April 9th, 2019 | 196 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I've been having some pretty dark thoughts

PUP are a special bunch; I’ve thought so since day one, and I’ll be damned if the equally colorful and sleazy Morbid Stuff is going to sway me. Even at their most abrasive state, they come across as a group of nerdy, fun-loving guys – ones who just so happen to make loud punk music that puts their peers to shame. The Dream Is Over was nothing short of a blast; a rough batch of snotty punk that brought us visions of Nintendo, Hawaiian Fruit Punch Kool-Aid and much more. It also wasn’t shy about the band’s dark humor and ability to poke fun at each other in, um, imaginative ways. I can’t think of many albums with such a potent one-two punch as “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” and the relentless “Dvp.” Indeed, the bar was set quite high with their sophomore effort, but PUP are back - as gleefully grim and seductive as ever.

Morbid Stuff takes all the messy qualities that made PUP standout in the first place – nasally vocals, scathing lyrics, amped-up guitars – and condenses them into a more vibrant experience via the lens of power-pop. Lead single “Kids” and the title track stand out immediately with some of the most addicting hooks of the band’s career. The bouncy, dare I even say cute guitar riff of “Kids” will be stubbornly ingrained in your head in no time. It may be their most accessible offering, but in no way have PUP lost their edge. As evident in “Free at Last” – a shout-along track where the band received over 250 submissions to be included in their music video – PUP are still ambitious, loud, and a little batshit crazy. The repeated chant of “Just ’cause you’re sad again/it doesn’t make you special at all!” is just the kind of sarcastic, self-aware line that you’d expect from them. They let loose in similar fashion in just about every other track on Morbid Stuff.

Aside from some musical tweaks, what really sets this album apart from The Dream Is Over is Stefan Babcock’s willingness to be vulnerable. This album brings us one step closer to understanding the lead singer’s personal side, with honest and insightful lyrics snuck in that would have felt out of place on their sophomore effort. Speaking of which, let’s talk about Scorpion Hill for a moment: the anthem-driven, defining moment of PUP’s career up until this point. It’s everything “Pine Point” wanted to be and so much more. Starting with Babcock’s most serene, weathered vocals to date, it shifts gears abruptly about a minute in (recalling Titus Andronicus’ best work on the The Monitor) with cheerful galloping guitars and abrupt tempo changes. Musically, it’s one of the band’s most varied tracks – a slight country flavor and accordion adding contrast to the huge guitar parts – but it’s the lyrical approach to “Scorpion Hill” that makes it the most ominous track of PUP’s career.

Babcock’s warped vision of fatherhood gone wrong amidst the chaos of addiction is a towering highpoint of the man’s writing abilities. Written from the perspective of someone else, the epic “Scorpion Hill” recalls a haunting experience the band members went through on tour when crashing at a stranger’s house. Glittered with used needles, cigarette butts and piss stains, it wasn’t exactly a welcoming stay for the Canadian punk band. However, it was something vocalist Babcock noticed amongst the piles of disgust that caused him immense sadness: a photograph of the guy’s son. The contrast of “my sweat-soaked mattress/corner of the room” with “got a picture of my kid, yeah he’s smiling and it’s the first day of school” is just one of many chill-inducing moments on the track. It’s a bleak portrayal of the very real opiate epidemic witnessed firsthand. Babcock uses witty lyrics to cut the tension, but he was clearly scarred by the experience. Being a father myself, the song cut through me like a saw; I was left feeling instant feelings of remorse for these people I don’t even know. The song forces you into the shoes of this lost father, and it’s a f**ing ride, man.

Without a doubt, “Scorpion Hill” is a noteworthy and unexpected high point of the band’s career, but it’s far from the only track to cause you to rethink what you know about PUP. During the tail end of Morbid Stuff, the band tinkers with some fuzzy noise-rock influences - “Full Blown Meltdown” and “City” in particular adding new depth to the their sound. On the former, Babcock takes a hilarious stab at the sadboi punk scene, ranting hysterically, “I’m just surprised the whole world isn’t tired of grown men crying like children.” As always, he’s poking fun at himself – which he admits to doing 90 percent of the time on Morbid Stuff. If I had to guess, the album title came from that unshakeable experience at a stranger’s home, but his ability to take flawed human beings and mold the ugliness into raucous, downright fun punk music is a bit uncanny. Yet, even at their most playful, there’s no denying these are some of the most grown-up songs they’ve made. “City” substitutes much of their wacky nature and lyrics for a well-rounded rock track that allows the instrumentation to take center stage – their slickest guitar playing making up the last minute of the album. To quote user Slex: "the end of "City" is basically a noise rock song and then out of nowhere they corral that high pitched distortion into such a catchy groove, blows my mind." Morbid Stuff is a worthy follow up to The Dream Is Over in all the right ways - giving fans everything they asked for with some amusing curveballs. It’s a complete thrill from front to back that manages to retain the band’s whacky nature while making some inspiring progressions forward. You can't get much closer to a modern punk classic than this.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2019


24528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I already know this will need some edits lol, but here it is





including the below from an interview re: Scorpion Hill as it helps explain where Stefan is coming from with that track. pretty heavy stuff



"We were on tour in Portland, Oregon, and it was our first time there and we didn’t know anybody. And we had a sign up at the merch table saying, like, if you have a place for us to crash, that would be much appreciated, and we ended up at this guy’s house. We had been staying in punk squats forever, and we’re no stranger to that kind of thing, but his house was kind of a different story. We walk in, it was yellow shag carpet. There were toenail clippings in the carpet everywhere; there were cigarette butts in the carpet. It was just so gross and we went to blow up our mattresses, and our host was like, “Hey, just check the ground for needles, there might be some lying around and it might puncture your mattress.” This is completely fucked. Zack and I slept in the concrete basement on like a shit-stained mattress. It was a really horrible experience. Then on the way out the next morning, I noticed there was a picture of what looked to be his 5- or 6-year-old son taped to the fridge, and it was just so fucking heavy. It’s a lot easier to like feel disgust or even pity or, you know — it’s easy to tell someone you’re a fucking adult, you should have your life together, and when I saw that picture all those feelings disappeared and it was just sadness. Like this is a real person; this isn’t the life he wanted and some things have gone really wrong in his life, and this is a terrible fucking experience. I was just kind of putting myself in his shoes and trying to imagine what the path was that he had gone down to end up in this circumstance, you know, realizing that he was a human being."

Digging: The Tallest Man on Earth - I Love You. It's a Fever Dream.

Papa Universe
April 9th 2019


20560 Comments


surprised this review took days and not minutes.

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nolerthebowler
April 9th 2019


3463 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[2] quality review tho

Danred97
April 9th 2019


2136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet review as always Atari. Definitely a great album, not feeling as strong as TDiO immediately, but that one was a grower so I expect this one will be similar. Scorpion Hill is definitely the highlight on first impression. Solid album all the way through though

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Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
April 9th 2019


24516 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wooo it's up yayay

calmrose
April 9th 2019


4674 Comments


album is phenomenal, have had it on repeat since Friday

think it's safe to say now that this is my favorite PUP album

Digging: PUP - Morbid Stuff

ButtBoy
April 9th 2019


2756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

about time!!! lol. nice writeup

bloc
April 9th 2019


55055 Comments


Not surprised by the hype for this. Unfortunately it is wasted on me.

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Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2019


24528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers y'all, I've added Stefan's comments about "Scorpion Hill" because I think they give valuable insight into his approach on that track, as depressing as it might be

Toondude10
April 9th 2019


13827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great album

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Diabetes
April 9th 2019


7 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice writ up, that interview with Stefan definitely gives scorpion hill even more of a depressing perspective than I originally thought

luci
April 9th 2019


10755 Comments


nice review, not into this record but i'm glad y'all are enjoying it

Pangea
April 9th 2019


2945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I haven't really be able to connect with their music that much. But this is pretty cool anyway

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JayEnder
April 9th 2019


3534 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Finally a review for this! Good write up dude.



Title track is the best song for me easily. Never cared much for these guys before this album.

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wwf
April 9th 2019


6255 Comments


free at last is fuckin great, I'm gonna give this a check

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Lucman
April 9th 2019


2325 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album is definitely a jam but I'm not quite enjoying it as heavily as you guys are. Hopefully that will change, though.

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Ponton
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2019


6730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hell yeah

Digging: Grizzly Bear - Shields

WatchItExplode
April 9th 2019


6546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

recalls a haunting experience the band member’s went through



ditch the apostrophe



Thanks Atari. Much of this echoes my own thoughts including the power pop feel at times.



Half of this album is standouts and the rest may just need some time to settle.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2019


24528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good catch, knew I probably missed something. cheers!





luci
April 9th 2019


10755 Comments


other edits: "the of lens of power-pop", "shy about band’s dark humor", "one of band’s most varied tracks"



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