Release Date: Apr 8, 2014
Record label: Side One Dummy
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
If their first single, Reservoir, suggested that Canadian quartet PUP would be the natural heirs to Hot Water Music in the world of gritty, blue-collar punk, the majority of their self-titled debut album tells an altogether different story. PUP’s greatest strength is in doing the simple things well: succinct melodic firecrackers delivered at a frenetic pace with gang-call vocals deployed at every feasible opportunity. Though their core is pop-punk, it’s overwhelmingly gnarly rather than saccharine, and best typified with the album’s middle-punch of Dark Days (the classic dichotomy of lyrical gloom set to an uplifting rush) and Lionheart.
Twenty years after Weezer’s debut album practically invented the genre, Toronto four-piece PUP are giving geek rock an upgrade. And while these ten songs trade on Rivers Cuomo’s gawky verve – opener ‘Guilt Trip’ is the best song that wasn’t on ‘Pinkerton’ – ‘PUP’ is a gleeful paroxysm all of its own. Track after track, noise and nuisance constantly battle it out, neither managing to best the other.
Chunky, gold-plated teeth grin across the cover of PUP’s debut, self-titled album - something that’s not far off what you might find on the front of an amateur rap mixtape. A close-up photo captured in black and white, it’s a pretty grim shot that immediately establishes this Toronto four-piece’s attitudes as nothing short of vitriolic. For lack of a better word, you’d be forgiven for assuming PUP are going for something biting with the blister-inducing punk rock to be found here.What we get across these ten tracks then is authentically gritty music that isn’t afraid to grate its gnashers.
This unit previously gained some traction as Topanga, but they opted to ditch that Boy Meets World-inspired moniker after Disney announced a forthcoming spinoff. Luckily, Pup's eponymous debut is so good that it's guaranteed to eclipse anything they accomplished under their previous name. The Toronto, ON four-piece deliver their structurally intricate tunes with unhinged ferocity, the raw arrangements never deviating from the outfit's basic live setup of bass, pummelling drums and twin distorted guitars.
One night in 2012, four Canadian twentysomethings decided to quit their day jobs, get completely hammered at a local watering hole, and focus on their band full-time. Then called Topanga, after the iconic Boy Meets World heartthrob, they honed their uproarious, snotty, infectious brand of booze-fueled punk rock through house shows and clubs in their hometown of Toronto. Later on, after Disney announced the forthcoming Girl Meets World spin-off, the quartet had to regroup and change their name, writing in a Tumblr post, “Ultimately, the corporate gutting of our teenage love AND her name, Topanga, won’t stop us.” They continued: “Fuck Disney, and fuck Topanga.
PUP is one of the most self-aware bands in music. Their music video for “Reservoir,” a single from their self-titled debut, finds the band playing an intense show in a tiny club. As they play, the band’s equipment begins to fall apart: guitar strings snap, drumsticks break and the microphone stand can’t decide what height it wants to be at. Then, the chaos turns to the band members.
Like a more rambunctious Titus Andronicus (if such a thing were possible), the self-titled debut album from Toronto’s PUP (which stands for Pathetic Use Of Potential) is sure to raise quite a ruckus in the progressive pop-punk world. Overflowing with drunken sing-alongs, guitar foolery and feedback-drenched melees, PUP is 10 songs of irreverent party jams for buds and their gals and their bros. Recorded by Dave Schiffman (Weezer, the Bronx), the album peaks past the red throughout, frontman Stefan Babcock’s geeky vocals distorting when he screams and the feedback piercing and cymbals crashing through the fat mix.