A decade into their existence as a band, PUP have made their name concocting songs from a trademark recipe of gnarly riffs, pounding rhythms, and sardonic chorus hooks. On their fourth album Toronto’s favoured hellions redefine what it means to be PUP.
Opening with an acoustic piano ballad (yes, really), ‘The Unraveling Of PUPTHEBAND’ is PUP as you’ve never heard them before. It’s also PUP as they always should’ve been heard. Incorporating horn melodies, searing saxophone solos, campfire vocals, and more besides, on this is the band at their most unapologetically uninhibited.
Written down like this, it looks like a lot to take in. And in anyone else’s hands, the influx of new instrumentation might run the risk of sounding like a novelty, but that’s not the case here. Instead, what the band have created is both their most ruthless and their realest offering yet.
Wrestling with the very industry they’re a part of in one song, and writing about love from the perspective of a guitar in the next, ‘The Unravelling…’ is an eternal contradiction. Which, really, is the most authentic thing a record can be. Transforming instinctive nihilism into anthems of affirmation and catharsis, PUP have created something that feels truly vital. Pretence is stripped bare, inhibitions are let loose, and the end result is nothing short of gleeful.
PUP’s latest effort is an unravelling in every sense of the word. It’s the destruction of the tried and tested template the group constructed for themselves. It’s the disentangling of the ingredients that make PUP, PUP. But what ‘The Unraveling…’ does best is make clear why this band have always been such a force to be reckoned with.
Ridiculous? Unquestionably. Genius? Quite possibly. All we know for sure is that it’s never sounded this good to feel this doomed.
“It should be enough to make something that nobody wanted,” frontman Stefan Babcock laments on ‘Four Chords’. Wanted or not, the band can rest assured in the knowledge that this is the PUP record the world always needed.