The reason a band’s second album is generally considered to be difficult, according to received wisdom, is that they spend their whole life writing their debut and then the follow up is thrown together on tour. PUP‘s second album is called The Dream is Over, after the words spoken to singer and guitarist Stefan Babcock by a doctor on discovering that one of his vocal cords had a cyst and was beginning to haemorrhage. Following 450 gigs in the space of two years and a spate of cancellations, combined with the fact that the record includes tracks with names like ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’, ‘My Life Is Over and I Couldn’t Be Happier’ and ‘Can’t Win’ you’d be forgiven for expecting the worst. Fortunately, you’d be wrong.
‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’ opens the record in a reflective mood, Babcock alone with his guitar lamenting that “Everything you do makes me want to vomit / If this tour doesn’t kill you, buddy I’m on it” before the entire bands kicks in with a huge pop-punk riff and the brilliantly tongue-in-cheek call-and-response of “I can’t wait for your funeral/Why can’t we just get along?”, it’s clear that the band are closer than ever. The way that there’s no gap between the opener and second track ‘DVP’ means there’s no pause for breath, bundling headlong into the record.
While opening the record with its two lead singles can make the next few tracks feel a bit flat there’s plenty of energy on show to make up for it, all excitable riffs and lots of yelling. ‘Sleep In The Heat’ is a slight diversion into surfier territory and ‘The Coast’ does some interesting things with a minor key and wailing guitars in the background, but it’s the hardcore blast of ‘Old Wounds’ that drags the record back by the scruff of its neck. You can almost smell the sweat of the venues packed with bodies screaming “You wanna know why I don’t come around anymore / Well it’s so fucking obvious” and “You wanna know if I’m still a prick/Well I am”. That track and ‘Pine Point’ are the two tracks that point in a slightly different direction and interestingly are the strongest tracks on the record along with the singles. ‘Pine Point’ takes the almost balladic direction that ‘Yukon’ from their self titled debut hinted at but stretches it further, committing more to the idea. It’s a great success as well, a lament for a town left to ruin after the closure of the local mine. Otherwise there may not be an awful lot new on offer from The Dream is Over but PUP are doing their thing so well that it’s unlikely anyone will be disappointed.
The Dream is Over is out now on SideOneDummy Records.