PUP’s ‘Morbid Stuff’ shows the band as heavier and angrier than every before.

Joel Thompson

With their third album “Morbid Stuff,” Canadian pop-punk band PUP solidifies themselves as a powerhouse of punk, signaling a mainstay amongst relevancy.

On previous albums, PUP showed the rawness, aggression and vulnerability that makes their music such a cathartic experience. This time, they improve all aspects of their sound while also experimenting with genre-bending and more deliberate songwriting.

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PUP shows an interest in expanding, or at least exploring, the possibilities of their sound through metal, hardcore and emo influences. One of the tracks, “Scorpion Hill,” starts off reminiscent of an old country ballad, but then develops into a hybrid between the band’s normal thrash-punk style and the country style they experiment with. The way “Scorpion Hill” plays with its influences is similar to most of the songs on this album. Usually their songs will start off completely inspired by another genre, but eventually, they progress into a combination of the genre and the band’s typical style.

It’s interesting to see where PUP takes each these influences, such as on the metal-infused track “Full Blown Meltdown.” Everything in this song works to make your bone chills and your body scream. The bass is the most evocative of the metal influences, but lead singer Stefan Babcock’s gut-wrenching screams do well in serving the high octane nature of the song. However, as the song goes on, the metal influences seem to fade away, or only remain a background element of the song.

The fade of experimentation tends to be the main issue on “Morbid Stuff.” PUP is comfortable in their normal sound and it’s clearly apparent. While PUP’s typical style is execution to near perfection, their explorations with other genres tend to be the most interesting aspects to this album. Even though constant experimentation is one of the best parts of this album, it tends to leave each of the songs feeling disjointed from the others.

Despite a disjointed feeling, nearly every song on this album stands out on its own. There is never a boring or lackluster section. This is partly due to the speed at which PUP plays, how often they bring in a new element or hook you in with their excellent songwriting.

The lyrical content of this album stands far above most other pop-punk albums that have come out in recent years, and it’s due to a reliance on realism. The album isn’t realistic in the sense that all the songs are about specific events or people, but realistic in how emotional hardships and mental health are displayed. PUP has always had moments of vulnerability in their previous works, but the vulnerability on this album is subtle yet aggressive.

“Morbid Stuff” is an album that gets better with each listen, and it opens itself up if you stay dedicated to it for a few days. The subtle layers each song has and the complex progressions most of them share do well to keep the audience entranced in the album, often leading to multiple listens without realization.

The only thing this 11-track album needs is another song or two.

Rating: 8.5/10

Best Tracks: “Full Blown Meltdown,” “Scorpion Hill,” “Bloody Mary, Kate and Ashley” and “Bare Hands.”

Worst Tracks: None

Joel Thompson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @probably_joel.