Venting to let it all out
PUP (Pathetic Use of Potential) is at a pivotal stage of their career. The Ontario based band has endeared themselves to many in the punk community, but they haven’t put out a career-defining record as of yet. This all changed with their latest release, Morbid Stuff. This marks their third full studio album after their self titled album in 2013 and The Dream Is Over in 2016. Morbid Stuff has a lot to offer in terms of fast-paced aggressive drums, heavily distorted bass parts, and emotional and thought-provoking lyrics. Qualities like this make it easy to see how the band was able to tour with a group like The Wonder Years in 2017. On this record, PUP conveys such an honest and straightforward outpour of raw emotions. Because of this, this record easily draws in yet and sweeps away listeners.
At first glance, it appears the album entails details of a heartbreaking breakup, but there are hints in the lyrics that may suggest it could be used as a metaphor for drug abuse. With references to self-destructive behavior, deteriorating mental wellness and honest admissions to general masochistic and self-harming thoughts, digging deeper reveals a lot more morbid stuff about this record.
“Morbid Stuff” kicks things off and sets the pace for the rest of the album. “I was bored as fuck, sitting around and thinking all this morbid stuff/ like if anyone I’ve slept with is dead and I got stuck/ on death and dying and obsessive thoughts that won’t let up/ makes me feel like I’m about to throw up.” The lyrics go on to mention getting high in a van, parents smoking weed in an attic, and a body aching like it never has before. Perhaps he is using drugs to escape a lonely feeling, or maybe the lack of drugs is creating the withdrawal that is similar to the body aches of missing a loved one.
The lyrics for “Kids” seems to confirm that the singer is going through a rough time; mentioning that he is “navigating his way through the mind-numbing reality of a godless existence.” The chorus talks about ‘not caring about anybody, but you.’ The second verse mentions how his songs are too literal and could use some subtlety. The rest of the lyrics talk about flesh wounds, giving into demons and how nice it is to finally feel something.
“Free At Last” is a fast-paced and raw sounding anthem. Stefan Babcock sings the lyrics, “Just ’cause you’re sad again, doesn’t make you special at all.” These lyrics seem to be from the perspective of Stefan looking in a mirror and putting himself down. “Free At Last” seems to be about wanting to find an escape from reality.
“Scorpion Hill” is a change of pace with the soft acoustic intro. The lyrics mention being “three sheets to the wind, not helping my case, the state that I’m in”. The struggles of the financial burdens of life and holding a job lead him into a dark place mentally.
Overall it is hard to decipher what is a metaphor and what is literal on Morbid Stuff. Perhaps drug addiction is the metaphor for lost love. Maybe a lost love is actually the metaphor for drug addiction. The lyrics also could just be a literal portrayal of Stefan Babcock’s life. Either way, the emotional release that is Morbid Stuff comes across as so honest and sincere, the listener has no real choice, other than to get caught up and identify with the music in their own unique way. The album at face value is fast, fun, and chock-full of raw emotion. Hidden just beneath the surface though is the release of a more serious struggle for peace of mind. This makes Morbid Stuff irresistibly human on an emotional and musical level.