Under Review


The Dream Is Over

Royal Mountain Records; 27/05/2016

Kat Kott

After their debut, self-titled album, PUP pursued the lofty goal of playing 200 shows in one year. They reached their goal, and surpassed it by 50+. Spending nights on a cramped tour bus, driving days on end, and ending up at some shows with an audience of eight people, an album like The Dream Is Over is bound to be born. The album focuses on failed relationships and trying your hand at maturity — and the anger, frustration, and exhaustion that can amount from that.

The first song “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” is pretty explicit in the mounting tension felt during touring and being constantly in such close quarters with the same people. As with many of the songs on the album, the track, despite dark lyrics, is accompanied by playful, jovial rhythms. Steve Sladkowski provides unconventional guitar riffs that both add complexity to the simple, rousing beats and make the harsh (though often joking) lyrics easier to digest.

The context of the track is very specific, but the feelings are painfully relatable. It’ll be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever been in an intimate — maybe utilitarian, maybe domestic — relationship that obviously is not working, and the frustration that builds from feeling trapped, despite tireless effort to make things right.

Many of the tracks also feature attempts at maturity. “DVP” features the lyric of, after making some drunken phone calls to an unamused recipient, Babcock yelping, “She says I need to grow up!” The song “Sleep in the Heat” is a ballad detailing how Babcock “was feeling lonely so he brought [a person] in.” It was his attempt at domestication, and demonstrates how forcing intimacy and maturity like that can be strainful, and even damaging. “You started falling apart / Six months after you moved in.” The second person eventually cracks under the pressures of Babcock’s expectations, which leads to another, subtler theme in the album death.

Death is featured in 3 songs (“Sleep in The Heat,” “The Coast,” “Pine Point”) and it’s usually brought up as just another plot point within the rest of the song, as opposed to being the true focus. “Pine Point” is a profile of an abandoned town, riddled with metaphors, and in the beginning, Babcock mentions, “In Pine Point, ’86 / My older brother died when we were kids.” The song is sobering, yet buoyant and rousing. It’s about the uncertainty of the future, and how the potential of what could be, with no actual substance or certainty, can seem bleak. Of the song, Babcock says to The FADER, “When you’re a kid, you kind of assume you’re going to have your shit figured out by the time you’re 28. And I’m so far from having my shit figured out.”

Pup will be in town November 21, if their tour doesn’t kill them.