PUP (acronym for Pathetic Use of Potential) is turning heads around the world with their second full-length The Dream Is Over, the perfect follow-up to their ground-breaking self-titled debut album. The album has already appeared on charts in Canada, the US and Australia and grabbing top positions in album and vinyl sales. Really make you wonder how four Ontario boys could have gained such worldwide recognition. Is it their unique indie pop-punk sound? Or is it the fact that they have a minimum of 200 tour dates in a year? Most bands would be biting off each other’s heads after a month on tour, but PUP have managed to survive the unforgiving road while being cramped inside a smelly van. Not that it’s been without its struggles, as illustrated in the opening track “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will.”
Songs range from bittersweet ballads to angsty shout-a-longs, such as “Old Wounds,” which is my personal favourite off the album. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to drunk-dial your ex and hold your phone to the stereo on blast. Everything works so well on this album. The infectious guitar work is guaranteed to get stuck in your head for weeks on end. Frontman Stefan Babcock’s helium-high vocals, aided by the backing “woahs” of his bandmates, emphasizes the raw emotion PUP is reknowned for.
The album is oftentimes cynical and melodramatic, occasionally delving into a self-deprecating tone. It’s as if the band is raising their glasses and saying “yeah, I’m ruining my life, but I’m having way too much fun doing it!” Songs like “The Coast” and the final tearjerker “Pine Point” tell tales of tragedy in small Canadian towns, but give a sense of hope when they finally do escape their backwater roots. The album ends on a sudden, sad note, much like the ending of The Empire Strikes Back. Let’s just hope that no Ewoks show up in PUP’s third album.
PUP’s new album was just announced on the Polaris short list on July 14, a prize given to the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit. Winners are announced September 19. Good luck PUP!