In a genre filled with flaws, Toronto’s PUP have broken the mould and made a record worth drooling for.
‘The dream is over’ is often or not the end result of a billion rock bands ‘year in and year out’ who get to album number two, running out of super-glue and bursting at the seams. PUP are yet another one of the additives to the over-flowing, over-bloated, and over-spilling coffee cup that is Toronto’s lingering punk-rock scene, and yet they’re one of the only ones avoiding the dreaded aforementioned phrase: ‘the dream is over.’
Ironically, they’ve named their sophomore record after the prophetic phrase, as if attempting to predict their own self-fulfilling prophecy – that is of course until you find yourself running through the ten-track acre of woods they’ve left you, a thirty-minute tour de force of the trials and tribulations of life on tour welded together by a soundtrack of punk rock tie-dyed in grunge.
If you weren’t accustomed to the self-deprivation that drips through the lyrics of a grunge-tinged punk record, then you’d be forgiven for assuming that the title of ‘The Dream Is Over’s’ opening track is a somewhat sinister look into the inner politics of PUP. However, opener ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’, acts as more of a mission statement than a death sentence with a building, bubbling bassline that eventually blows up in the middle of your ears, vocalist Stefan Babcock singing with such rawness the emotion shines through far more than it should, spilling his innermost thoughts: “counting down the miles till we leave the state, counting down the minutes till I can erase every memory of you.”
Whilst lyrically ‘The Dream Is Over’ reads like a row of epitaphs, a gossip magazine special dedicated to the inner workings of the personal lives of the members of PUP, instrumentally the album plays out like a summers day at the beach for your average twenty-first century hipster – slick, shiny, speedy riffs with a rhythm section far more suited for the alt-rock revolution the radio’s been rolling with than a Canadian punk rock band. ‘My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier’ is a sprawling summer anthem sugar-coated in cyanide-like lyrics melting away at the all-too-sunny, all-too-cheery atmosphere Babcock and fellow guitarist Steve Sladkowski have created in the centre of their conflict.
Sladkowski deserves a round of applause for his simple yet sensational fretwork throughout ‘The Dream Is Over’, from the hard-hitting one-two riffs in ‘DVP’ to the ‘get up and dance’ vibes of ‘Can’t Win’. Where most bands seemingly going through the motions struggle to gel, the intricate instrumentation layered throughout ‘The Dream Is Over’ speaks volumes of the bond between these four men.
In a world where grunge punk is beginning to bubble up to the surface of the mainstream, PUP are a band set to fall at the next hurdle yet leap over it in race-winning style with an album that should read ‘The Dream Is Beginning’ rather than ‘The Dream Is Over’. In a genre filled with flaws, Toronto’s PUP have broken the mould and made a record worth drooling for.
‘The Dream Is Over’ is out now on SideOneDummy Records.
This PUP article was written by Jack Press, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo credit : Boy Wonder