With Morbid Stuff, PUP invites you to careen into chaos with them.
Saint Vitus was packed the first time I saw PUP. By this point, I had all but worn a hole into my copy of their self-titled record, and I was excited to see it performed live. Most of the crowd had also been at Chumped’s final show at Suburbia the prior weekend. Saying goodbye to something special was hard, and I was struggling to figure out what was next. I was feeling overwhelmed by New York and lost creatively, but I knew that seeing music would help. Little did I know how intense of an experience it was about to be. I leave some shows wanting to learn the bands’ songs, then there’s PUP—PUP came crashing in and made me want to do everything. In the cab ride home that night I remember saying “I want to go to shows forever. I don’t want this energy to go away.”
PUP has honed their sound on Morbid Stuff, providing a familiar sound and delivering a crushing exploration of mental health. Morbid Stuff calls out depression, anxiety, and highlighting overwhelming, obsessive thoughts. What if everything goes wrong? What if sadness is my only defining factor? What if the only reason that I am who I am because of my trauma? These thoughts can spiral and easily feel insurmountable.
This album is PUP’s anthemic admission of these demons. Morbid Stuff is a declaration to the storm that “I will make it through this, even if it kills me.” It can be hard to remember that in the moment, but PUP are here to get that in your head. All of the songs feel like they’re punk grown up—talking about life with a little more perspective. The songs about breakups talk about being at the grocery store, eating healthier, and meditation instead of overly dramatic chaos.
I’d be remiss to talk about PUP without specifically addressing how nuanced the instrumentation is, and how much it adds to the album. Morbid Stuff feels familiar within the PUP discography, reinventing the staple sounds and building it into a brisk rager of a record. I appreciate that the first track, “Morbid Stuff,” ends by fading into what could be the demo for the song. The curtain is pulled back and shows the bones of the song and helps establish the unguarded honesty of the album.
Riffs are a high priority as usual, and the interplay of the guitars takes them to the next level. Dueling leads on “Free at Last,” catchy hooks on “Kids,” and ambiance that gives the record a decidedly brooding Canadian tone. “City” closes out the album with controlled feedback and harkens back to “Yukon” off their self titled.
PUP unleashed “Full Blown Meltdown” on an unsuspecting crowd a few months ago. Like “Old Wounds,” anger and frustration fuel this behemoth of a song-a song built for catharsis and more likely an attempt to shatter the earth. The breakdown is restrained, and it’s almost frustrating that it doesn’t continue for a little longer. When the dust settled in Mercury Lounge, I had the same level of joy and excitement as the first time I saw them.
PUP writes music that embodies brutal honesty that has become a motivating force and a soundtrack for my life. The first time I saw PUP it frigid in Greenpoint, and a million degrees inside Saint Vitus. Overwhelmed and excited, I stuffed my coat behind an ATM, pushed my way to the front, and embraced the calamity.