PUP have never been ones to shy away from the gloomier side of life – take their cheerily titled last album ‘The Dream Is Over’. Yet there’s been a twisted mirror-image to their negativity, the sense of a band relishing their own existential crises. They revel in misery, but do so with maniacal smiles plastered across their faces.
‘Morbid Stuff’ (another positivity-packed title there) is that double-edged sword sharpened to a point. “It doesn’t matter anyway – I don’t care about nothing but you,” comes the soaring chorus to lead single ‘Kids’, a nihilistic anthem about that friend you’d like to share the end of days with.
“I’ve always been a little masochistic,” beams frontman Stefan Babcock on ‘See You At Your Funeral’, a break-up anthem that finds him praying for the full-on apocalypse just to really get one over on his ex. It’s that self-flagellating thread that ties together the album’s various pontifications on the pointlessness of it all. The explosive ‘Sibling Rivalry’, which weaves a tale of a fucked-up friend Babcock can’t say no to, shows that PUP are never afraid to point the finger back at themselves.
Musically, though, it all soars, guitarist Steve Sladkowski’s chirpy guitar lines and solos sounding at times like a high-gain circus march, and drummer Zack Mykula’s snare-heavy bounce keeping things from following the lyrical trudge into gloom. As a result, by the time the self-explanatory ‘Full Blown Meltdown’ rings in the record’s end, you’re right there with Babcock, gleefully cackling as implosion approaches.
A refreshing, sarcastic antidote to fighting misery with the usual greetings card-meets-motivational poster sentiment, ‘Morbid Stuff’ secures PUP’s position at the top of the present-day punk rock pile. By eschewing the feel-good fakery of some of their peers, they’ve cracked something far more unifying than meaningless, posi-punk platitudes. After all, sometimes when you really feel like shit, it’s more fun to kick the dirt around.