Many of you probably haven’t heard of this band, but they are one of the best new acts of the year. PUP hails from Canada and likes to rock hard. Since the release of their debut album this part April, they’ve been blowing up and getting notoriety everywhere. They were even named best new act from Rolling Stone, which is how I found out about them. Their debut is an impressive string of songs that range from destructive fun to ominous moods. With their brash sound and raw vibe, they may have one of the best albums of the year.
Right from the get go the album brings chaos. “Guilt Trip” has this disjointed, brash feel to the music. It’s full of aggression and energy that sets the raw, hard mood for the record. Though vocalist Stefan Babcock’s style is reminiscent of Matt Shultz, he still has his own distinct style. Here, he sounds unhinged, like he can’t hold back his feelings any longer. As the song goes on he sounds more and more intense until you’re convinced he’s having a breakdown by the end. Their breakout hit “Reservoir” is no doubt one of the best tracks on the LP. This song is intense, crazy, and in your face. The energy is through the roof. It’s one of those songs you lose your mind to. It actually blew my mind when I first heard it. The punk rock vibe gives it a destructive feel that matches perfectly with the lyrics about a sloppy love life.
Just when you think you have the band pegged, they switch things up on “Mabu,” an ode to a car. The music is just as raw and unpolished as the other tracks, but rather than being harsh and heavy, it’s very upbeat and playful. There are even parts with gentle singing that sounds like an old ’60s beach song. Something about the entire mood makes it a perfect summer jam. “Never Try” is another upbeat track, but takes more influence from pop punk thanks to the music and the melodic singing. “Dark Days” is a fun track filled with energetic, catchy music, but there’s a catch. The lyrics keep talking about the end of days, but focusing on the good times instead. It has a good message to it that may just pick you up on a bad day.
The band slows things down on “Yukon.” This folk driven song has an ominous vibe. Even the opening riff plays like it’s trying to tell you something bad is about to happen. Babcock calms down a bit here, but still manages to sound on the verge of cracking. At the end, the music breaks down and comes together in a jam of sorts. The most memorable track is the closing number “Factories.” Just like many of the other songs, the music is upbeat and playful. It actually sounds similar to the music from their other song “Back Against the Wall.” While you’re bobbing along to the song, you begin to notice something off about the lyrics: “And down by the Dawn Valley Creek/The water is dirty and deep/Leave you under the overpass/With the broken glass/By the factories.” As the song goes on, you learn he has actually killed his cheating lover and knows he’ll be hanged for it. He describes his steps to the platform in vivid detail. Turns out, he doesn’t care because has the last laugh. It’s tongue in cheek with a dash of cynicism that’ll have you laughing by the end.
Overall, the album gets 9/10. This is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve heard in a while. Their sound is raw, energetic rock and roll mixed with elements of folk, punk, and some indie. Their music is exciting and the unhinged vocals give PUP a unique sound and feel. They’re definitely one of the best new acts of 2014, especially if you love unabashed rock music to lose control to. Anyone who is a fan of bands like Cage the Elephant, Priestess, and Dead Sara are sure to love this band.