For bands, “finding your sound” is an exhaustive effort that is worthy of admiration. But just as learning an instrument is the first step to making music, finding your sound is just the beginning. On third album Morbid Stuff, PUP fully embrace their sound, and in the process take time to explore and really break open just what they can do with the music they make. The result is a raucous record celebrating living your truth- even if it is death-obsessed and anxiety ridden. But with bombastic choruses and an energy that just doesn’t quit, PUP still lets the fun they have making music shine through.

On the album opener and title track, you get those signature layered guitars and barreling drums. Then the instruments take a step back, settle into a steady beat, and Stefan Babcock facetiously announces, “I was bored as fuck/ Sitting around/ and thinking all this morbid stuff.” From there, there track takes off, bouncing between a steady drive and syncopated breakdowns. What elevates the song though, is the bridge halfway through; a sudden bouncy, pop-influenced breakdown that deserves a chef’s kiss in its balance of charm and cynicism. You also hear this balance on the track, ‘See You at Your Funeral’, with a melody that sticks and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, this will be one shouted from the balcony at shows.

This continues to play out in the lead single, ‘Kids’. A mix of spoken word, heavy bass, and catchy hooks, a confession of love is balanced by the bite of reality; “Your little songs are getting way too literal/ How about some goddamn subtlety for a change?” PUP have mastered self-deprecation and using it not as a defense but as empowerment. At no point in the record to they deny who they are, punk is hailed for being brutally honest and Morbid Stuff doesn’t skimp out.

With this empowerment, PUP takes chances, playing with their sound and dynamics. On ‘Scorpion Hill’, the boys go full country a la Rolling Stones for the song’s intro, and it then kicks into overdrive for the bulk of the song as only they can. Even with this exploration of complimentary sounds that leaned on more polished sounds, PUP still took the time to melt faces and let listeners know the pit is waiting for them. With the three-track run of ‘Bloody Mary, Kate and Ashley’, ‘Sibling Rivalry’, and ‘Full Blown Meltdown’, you can taste the sweat and feel the heat of the adrenaline - they take the live show to you. The call-and-response vibe on the refrain of ‘Sibling Rivalry’ encapsulates the frustrations sung.

PUP feel stretched and loose on Morbid Stuff. As rambunctious as the songs can be, that wouldn’t be achieved without the seriousness that they approach their art. You can be cynical and embrace the free-wheeling aesthetic that comes with punk- it’s known for its snark - but to make that work, many forget just how precise you must be in your actions. Capturing that raw energy and feeling of a live show on a studio album means there’s no room for sloppiness. There is a respect from PUP to their fans. As personal as the writing is, these songs are clearly for the listeners; their sound is a celebration of the community that supports them. They know the magic live shows have and bring that to fans who can then revel in that feeling as they go about their day. With this display of maturity from PUP, it will be great to see how they take these songs and crank them up even more live.

With Morbid Stuff we see PUP taking that next step necessary for any band comfortable in their sound. In high school one semester, there was a particularly tough song I had in choir, but after weeks, there was a class where we ran through it and hit every note and rhythm correctly. We were stoked. Our choir director looked at us and smiled and said, “Wonderful! Now that you know the song, we can start making it into music.” PUP have reached this peculiar point, and they’ve taken the ball and run with it.