PUP: This Place Sucks Ass (Little Dipper/Rise) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, November 26th, 2020  

PUP

This Place Sucks Ass

Little Dipper/Rise

Oct 23, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Toronto pop punk powerhouse PUP went into 2020 touring behind its most successful album yet, 2019’s Morbid Stuff. The record’s combination of catchy shout-along anthems and explosive, self-loathing ragers made it among the best punk records of that year, earning widespread critical and fan praise. Although the hard-touring band often plays more than 200 shows a year, with COVID shutting down the touring industry for the foreseeable future, PUP has almost certainly found themselves with some extra time on their hands. What better time to release an EP of odds-and-ends, aptly titled This Place Sucks Ass? 

With one cover, one song written and recorded this year, and four tracks from the Morbid Stuff sessions, PUP’s newest EP is, in some ways, a less cohesive listen than PUP’s painstakingly crafted full-length records. Luckily, the scattershot nature of the EP largely works in the band’s favor. Although these tracks might not have fit neatly on Morbid Stuff, they do see the band try some novel instrumental choices such as the off-kilter rhythm and stabbing guitar tones of “Anaphylaxis.” The band’s punked-up cover of Grandaddy’s “AM 180” is another highlight that leans away from PUP’s usual sound with its bright harmonic guitar leads. Meanwhile, the multi-phased exploration of neurotic boredom on “Nothing Changes” sounds closer to indie rock than punk. However, what the track loses in frenetic energy it gains in its hook-filled group vocals. PUP seems to have had a great deal of fun trying on new ideas without the pressure and overthinking that comes with a full-length record.

The opener “Rot,” the only track written this year, also stands out in how it examines the band’s success since they broke through. Similar to “Full Blown Meltdown” off of Morbid Stuff, the band members take themselves to task for how they exploit and monetize their own worst tendencies. Frontman Stefan Babcock snarls, “I’m doing something productive with my self-destruction /It’s the one thing keeping me sane.” When put to PUP’s raging punk energy and melodic gang vocals the result is everything to love about PUP. The band seems to be constantly honing its sound to a razor-sharp edge. 

The band describes most of these tracks as the few leftovers from Morbid Stuff that were too dark or unhinged to make the tracklist. Yet, there isn’t much on this EP that matches the intensity PUP deploys in the heavier moments of The Dream Is Over or Morbid Stuff. The closest the band gets is the searing self-hatred of “Edmonton,” but, at only 70 seconds, the track does come off as slightly one-dimensional despite its enticing energy. Given more time in the studio, an instrumental breakdown similar to the mosh-pit filling finale of “Full Blown Meltdown” could’ve added some more substances to the track. 

Though the EP does lack the cohesive and polished feel of a full-length PUP record, the blistering energy, unrelenting self-deprecation, and outright quality of PUP’s output keeps This Place Sucks Ass from feeling inconsequential. Even if they didn’t fit on Morbid Stuff, there is not an appreciable dip in the overall quality of the tracks. PUP’s odds-and-ends can easily stand with the best of what pop punk has to offer and there’s been no better year for this sort of nihilistic, neurotic punk. (www.puptheband.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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