Punk rock outfit PUP is back with their follow up to 2013's eponymous debut, The Dream Is Over. The band abandons some of their gritty pure punk rage from their prior release and come to a new, more accessible sound while still maintaining their core punk rooting.
Reckless abandon is a signature in our current definition of a punk band. PUP seems to sacrifice some of this in order to blend angry rock with structures that have some sense of order. Some songs don't stay entirely true to this; songs like 'Sleep In The Heat' has a loose sense to it. This doesn't really play to it's favor, though. The song is one of the weakest on the record, given that the rest of it has steadier structures that make up the tracklist. It stands out in the way a punk song should, but in this album it's a bit of a black sheep. 'My Life Is Over & I Couldn't Be Happier' feels similarly unpolished, but tighter than the former track does, giving it that extra edge.
Something this album does stay true with its genre is the riffage. Especially towards the middle section of the record, giant riffs explode with inner angst and rage. 'The Coast' has perhaps the most confident riff: it's huge and in your face as it kicks in without warning. The juxtaposition of the wailing tremolos over the thick distorted powerchords create a distinct urgency that really carries the riff to a different level. The strength of the chorus takes the riff a step further, Stefan Babcock's angry voice complimenting the enraged riff. Another giant track, 'Old Wounds', follows suit, this song immediately starting off with energy and channelling it throughout the entire song. Disjointed guitar lines and harsh screams fill the choruses while Nestor Chumak's chunky basslines provide a strong low-end to the trashing track. While not full on angry like the prior tracks, 'Familiar Patterns' has a driven beat and strong riffs. This song is more relatable than jam-worthy, but it certainly falls in both categories.
There isn't too much memorable emotion besides rage on the record, but it does exist. Right off the get go, 'If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will' starts with a signature of punk rock: a melody that doesn't seem to care. While it usually throws me off, this specific melody seems to have a sense of conviction to it, and while it throws off the call-to-arms vibe the rest of this track his, it certainly isn't as much of a detraction as it would be coming from any other band. The track segues without pause into 'DVP' that, unless you were watching the track change, you might not even notice. The song just... happens. It doesn't leave much of a mark, perhaps as a result of its immediate and unaccented transition. The album closes on the considerate 'Pine Point', a recollection of past experiences. It builds up from a somber ballad to a powerful rock 'n' roll anthem. Big powerchords and electrifying guitar back the chorus before the final reprisal kicks in in a big group sing-a-long that brings the album to a satisfying and full circle conclusion.
PUP may be Canada's current punk sensation, and they've certainly lived up to their hype from their debut, but there's still a lot of room to grow. They polished up their sound with The Dream Is Over, allowing for a more accessible sound but abandoning some of the pure punk feel. This album isn't free of bumps and bruises, but it certainly makes up for its flaws with its best moments. Don't miss out on this one.
Favorite Tracks: The Coast, Old Wounds, Pine Point
Least Favorite Track: Sleep In The Heat