PUP frontman Stefan Babcock has the voice of a man desperate to get across his point of view – snotty emissions tinged with emotion even when conveying the most mundane of sentiments. Shades of Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle and Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum are obvious, as are numerous predecessors of a punkier persuasion.
The Toronto quartet’s recently minted fourth full-length, The Unraveling of PUPtheband
, is a concept album about, yes, the demise of PUP (which supposedly stands for Pathetic Use of Potential). Babcock’s ragged vocals complement music that is end-of-world bombastic one minute, less so the next as shards of melody emerge through the din.
It remains clear Babcock and his band mates — bassist Nestor Chumak, drummer Zack Mykula and guitarist Steve Sladkowski — are not happy with the state of the world today, but, as ever, jubilant music cuts through Babcock’s bummed-out lyrical concerns. Jagged guitar lines weave between fizzy sing-along choruses, while the sneakily subtle rhythm section anchors songs in line with the punky approach that drove PUP’s first three efforts: 2013’s self-titled debut, 2016’s breakthrough follow-up The Dream Is Over
and 2019’s stellar Morbid Stuff
“I could talk about the lyrics and how I’m trying to make this big statement and it wouldn’t be completely false,” Babcock said in a recent interview with Consequence of Sound. “But I think the point that I would more like to focus on here is that this album is called The Unraveling of PUPtheband
, and it is literally the sound of the four of us unraveling. Like, losing our collective minds thinking that saxophone freakout solos would be a good idea. It’s some of the goofiest parts on the whole record and it’s some of the dumbest lyrics of the whole record, and a part of that is, yeah, we were losing our minds by the end of the process, but that shit’s funny. Music is supposed to be fun.”
Which begs the question: What would an angry PUP record sound like?
PUP plays at 7 p.m. June 5 at Bogart’s. Health checks may be required. Info: bogarts.com
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