I’ll say it: PUP’s Morbid Stuff is the ultimate pop-punk album. Everything from the title, to the album art, to the lyrics, to the guitar hooks points to the great tension of the genre: the tension between the morbid, and…the stuff.
The band rocks out even as they sing songs about apathy, sadness and the end of the world. They manage to balance humor with seriousness and a good rockout. The music itself is unexpected yet somehow familiar. Unusual time signatures paired with super catchy, singable lyrics.
The back and forth between the mundane and the extreme is probably the best part of this album. It obviously appears in the title track, where lead singer Stefan Babcock is “bored as fuck” until he thinks himself into an oblivion about “death and dying and obsessive thoughts that won’t let up.” It comes up again in the second track, “Kids,” where instead of the normal happiness associated with youth, Babcock says that he, like the kids, is “navigating my way through the mind-numbing reality of a godless existence.”
“See You At Your Funeral” is about the perils of good habits: after running into an ex at the grocery store while he’s “buying organic food, making healthy selections,” he starts wishing for the end of the world to avoid seeing the ex again. “We can watch the highlights in hell,” he sings, “I hope they’re televised.”
An underrated track on this album is definitely “Sibling Rivalry,” where Babcock describes adventures-gone-wrong with his sister, including rafting through a river full of sewage and getting “stuck in the tent for days” in a snow storm. “I’m not trying to stick it to you,” he tells her, “but who thought of this in the first place?” a new take on the chorus, if you could call it that, from earlier in the song.
Is it too early to put an album from 2019 on a best of the decade list? Considering I listened to this album every day for the first month it came out, and the fact that I flew 1,700 miles just to see the band, I would certainly answer “no.” The test of time is a false test, because time is a human construct anyway—just another way of keeping track as you make your way through the morbid and the rest of the stuff.
Carolyn is a rock enthusiast with a soft spot for 2000’s pop-punk. She enjoys that her desk job lets her listen to lots of music, and she regularly contributes to her run club’s weekly playlist.