PUP Make Pop Punk Fun Again With 'Morbid Stuff'

It has been around 3 years since PUP released their perfect album The Dream is Over in 2016. Since that album was released, I have been itching for more and when they released the lead single, “Kids,” I knew that PUP’s third album, Morbid Stuff, would be one of the top albums of 2019. Signing with Rise Records was a huge step in the career of this band. They will for sure get more exposure, bigger tours, and widen their audience so much. I have always had a love/hate relationship with Rise Records, but in this case, it is all love. Admittedly, after an initial underwhelming first listen, I thought I had gotten myself way too excited over this album. Needless to say, after subsequent listens, Morbid Stuff has grown on me a considerable amount.

There is so much to love about Morbid Stuff and PUP as a band in general. They bring a certain energy to the pop punk genre that no one else has captured so easily in such a long time. They are fun. So much of what pop punk has become in the late 2000s and this past decade is super serious and emo-tinged, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but the fun pop punk of the 90s and early 2000s is totally lost in this generation (aside from the easycore stuff, I suppose). PUP’s energy is refreshing in a pop punk scene that is so intentionally melancholy. However, this isn’t to gloss over their very nihilistic lyrics and the unhappy situations that they describe. They simply do it with a lot more of a tongue-in-cheek attitude that most other bands do nowadays. Take, for example, the second single, “Free at Last” (which they had fans submit their own versions of before the song was released [I participated]). The lyrics of the song are very much about depression and how it has affected relationships, but they express this in a way that almost makes the main character seem like someone we are supposed to laugh at. I feel that this is very intentional since the main character is most certainly Stefan Babcock, the lead singer of the band.

PUP have proven once again that they are extremely versatile with Morbid Stuff. The album has its lows and its highs as far as dynamics go and the lyrics are all over the place as well. The very campfire-like song “Scorpion Hill” has a simple mood in the first half, and the closing track, “City,” is a slower and more somber number. One of the best tracks on the entire album is the track “Full Blown Meltdown” which features a very aggressive delivery all around, and even a very thrashy breakdown to close the song out. The track “Bloody Mary, Kate and Ashley” is a super fun track that sees Babcock tripping on some sort of drug and seeing ghosts/demons after doing the classic “bloody mary” ritual in his bathroom. The lead single, “Kids,” is a very introspective song looking at life and depression and making it to a place where he can have kids. There is truly something for everyone on this album, and at the same time, it is almost impossible for anyone to resist the extreme catchiness.

The band has always been great at writing super catchy and memorable guitar licks and riffs. This album is absolutely no stranger to that aspect. I guarantee that anyone who becomes familiar with this album will be singing every guitar and vocal line at any chance they get. There are so many catchy choruses on this record (“Free At Last,” “See You at Your Funeral,” “Kids,” “Bloody Mary, Kate and Ashley,”). This album feels like it was designed to be inescapably enjoyable. I think it will be extremely difficult for anyone who is a fan of alternative, punk, or pop punk to listen to this collection of songs and not love it. If the story of the events leading up to their last album hadn’t already proven it, Morbid Stuff shows that PUP are not slowing down any time soon. They know who they are. They know who they want to be, and they are going to do it for as long as they possibly can. While I don’t think that the quality of this album surpasses their sophomore release, that may just be because I have so many great memories attached to that record and still hold it as one of my favorite albums of all time. I still think that Morbid Stuff is a near perfect album and a very early contender for the album of the year in 2019, and very well may be the best pop punk release that will come out this year.


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