Fire Note Says: PUP give punk a fresh breath.
Album Review: In this modern age of punk there are only a few bands that I can recall having made some noise stateside that hail from Toronto. I am thinking Fucked Up and METZ without going too small or underground as I believe there is a rising and surging energy coming from the North. That being said, PUP is a band that should be making this rather small list very soon after their self-titled debut, which already made some waves in Canada late last year, hits everywhere this week courtesy of SideOneDummy Records.
PUP gives you everything you want in a catchy punk pop record such as blasting guitar riffs, pounding skins, full band call outs and plenty of controlled restraint. What? What was the last word I used – restraint? You can find this throughout the album as PUP sometimes leaves their punk tendencies and has a similar vibe to the likes of the UK’s Arctic Monkeys and Libertines. Turns out that PUP know how to create intensity by pulling back this balls to the wall record at just the right moment like on the fun and reckless song “Lionheart” that comes to a close with the band singing the title together and frontman Stefan Babcock finishing it softly and clearly. This subtle type of close is the mint on the pillow. In the middle of “Never Try” Babcock smoothly asks “am I too old to be campin’ out on my backporch?” with such reflection for their young age. The over 5 minute “Yukon” has a blues undertone to its grind which is the perfect rest area as you gear up for the second half of this album and with its small drum solo flurry at the end, you can hear that PUP are much more than a typical 1,2,3 punk band.
Just because PUP has some other musical avenues here on their debut don’t think that they can’t punk it out. That would be a mistake as “Reservoir” is a full throw your fist in the air type of track. I could envision this song playing in the newest season of Sons of Anarchy as the motorcycles ride into battle. It has a stick in your brain hook, throaty vocals, a memorable guitar line and it is so musically tight that it fits like a glove. Other songs like the blazing “Backs Against The Wall” and the closing “Factories” will only finalize these thoughts as PUP just gave you a fresh class in current punk rock – and it is a class that you will want to take again.
Key Tracks: “Reservoir”, “Mabu”, “Lionheart”
Artists With Similar Fire: Titus Andronicus / Sharks / The Libertines
– Reviewed by Christopher Anthony