TITLE: MORBID STUFF
LABEL: RISE RECORDS/LITTLE DIPPER
WORDS: CHRIS PRENATT
Prior to the release of their sophomore album The Dream Is Over in 2016, PUP vocalist Stefan Babcock was told by his doctor that he was suffering from damaged vocal cords. That didn’t stop him and the rest of the Canadian punk quartet from making one of the most celebrated punk records of the year.
Fast forward to now. Babcock is suffering from depression and isn’t as happy as he used to be. Even with the group growing in popularity and signing to the popular independent label Rise Records, making their own label Little Dipper, and having a cameo in the video game Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, it’s not enough to drag him from his funk. That’s when he decides to use that depression to his advantage, writing several songs about the topic that anyone who is or has been going through can relate. And thus, ‘Morbid Stuff’ was born.
On PUP’s third album, the group go deep and darker with their lyrics, straying further from their previous attempts while adding more to their hard punk style. ‘Morbid Stuff’ shows a more mature PUP that have been through so much but are still able to have fun.
“the group go deep and darker with their lyrics, straying further from their previous attempts while adding more to their hard punk style.”
The opening title track hits hard, clearly tell you that this band is nothing like who they were in 2016. Babcock immediately starts singing about his depression, singing, “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.” A bit of a conflict can be found in the song, with Babcock believing how he should feel versus his optimistic friends. Even with the sad lyrics, PUP still give an energetic performance, meshing in their style with something out of a song by The Menzingers. The track comes to a close with the band now sounding along to his lyrics, having Steve Sladkowsk strum on a slow, acoustic melody.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. “Kids” has Babcock wondering if he should take his own life, saying “I should’ve tapped out/Given into my demons, oh,” and wondering “how the hell I got myself into this.” The three-and-a-half minute long track is also a love song, talking about finding someone who’s as fucked up as you are in this cold, cold world. The evidence for that can be found in the sing-a-long chorus, belting out “I guess it doesn’t matter anyway / I don’t care about nothing but you / I guess it doesn’t matter anyway / ‘Cause I don’t care about nothing / I don’t care about nothing but you / No, I don’t care about nothing.”
Depression fuels the rest of the album, with Babcock crooning out such sad lyrics like “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” on the album’s longest song “Scorpion Hill”, and “Just ’cause you’re sad again, it doesn’t make you special at all / Just ’cause you’re sad again, it doesn’t make you special” in the chorus to “Free At Last”, a track where he’s using his self-hatred to motivate himself and power through his depression.
” Sing-a-longs catchier than an STD, punk stylings that will get crowds moving, and lyrics that those going through problems can easily cling to.”
But then everything goes to hell on “Full Blown Meltdown” where Babcock does exactly what the song says. In this Every Time I Die-ish track, he breaks the fourth wall, straight up being self-aware about their songs. “And make no mistake / I know exactly what I’m doing / I’m just surprised the world isn’t sick / Of grown men whining like children / You shouldn’t take it so seriously / It’s just music after all / And half the crap I say is just / Things I’ve stolen from the bathroom walls / Of shitty venues across America,” he vents on the aggressive track.
The ending of Morbid Stuff ends with “City”, fueled by a foreboding rhythm and soft chords on the guitar. The frustrations that Babcock sings about throughout the album remain at the end, showing a standstill in his progress. We hear Babcock struggling, returning back to square one on the first track, saying “And between you and me / This city’s slowly poisoning me / And as I rip into it’s scales / It rots beneath my fingernails / And when I try to claw out of the pit / All I do is get sucked back in.” It’s like nothing’s working.
Even with its dark subject matter, it still has the same old PUP sound we’ve grown to love over the years. Tracks like “See You At Your Funeral”, “Bloody Mary, Kate And Ashley”, and “Bare Hands” still shows us that they haven’t lost what makes PUP, PUP. Sing-a-longs catchier than an STD, punk stylings that will get crowds moving, and lyrics that those going through problems can easily cling to. It’s not only a solid album by PUP, but it’s a solid punk album. ‘Morbid Stuff‘ is possibly the finest punk record of the year.