PUP – The Dream Is Over

It’s fun being a music fan – super fun. At any one moment you might drop down deep into utter bliss and the best part is – it’s always unexpected: you can’t predict or plan for it. The best conditions are an open mind and a source of new music – bandcamp, Spotify, a cd you picked up from JB to listen to in the car. A live band that plays a song you can’t shake for weeks after. A radio station that plays a track you casually scan by, that embeds itself into your bones even when you’ve caught just a snippet of it.

There’s a pretty famous band named Bayside who are super awesome, who have an early song called Blame It On Bad Luck. There’s a verse they’ve got that sums it up better than anyone without a guitar probably can:

“Now I realise, I’d give anything I have

to walk a day in my old shoes.

Wondering what my first smoke would be like,

my first fuck, my next fuck up.

{Or} the next band that would change my life

and it changed my life.”

You only get a couple of goes at finding ‘The next band that would change my life.’ There are probably equivalents for people with other interests: film makers if you’re a movie buff, or new ingredients if you’re a foodie. Those tangible additions to your life that make you feel more complete, like you’re further along on your way to being a functioning human, a successful adult, than maybe you thought you were.

28 is an awkward age. There’s the famous e-card that goes, “I’m at that awkward age where half my friends are having babies and the other half are too drunk to find their phones.”

awkward age ecard

There’s The Wonder Years song that goes, “Well Jesus Christ, I’m 26, all the people I graduated with all have kids, all have wives, all have people who care if they come home at night, well jesus christ, did I fuck up.” (It’s a sick song and super fun to scream with a bunch of similarly disenchanted ‘young adults’, when seeing them live.)

As someone who’s firmly entrenched in the ‘lost my phone’ half and sings her heart out at Wonder Years gigs, a lot of the time it feels like there may not be an actual point to any of this. What is the point to being good at the things that you’re good at, or interested in the things you’re interested in, and why are you in the lives of the people that you know? Why are they in yours? You know that Jimmy Eat World lyric? “Could it be that everything goes ‘round by chance, or only one way that it was always meant to be?” (Check out Futures, their second best album, and then start to question everything you know.)

But then you find an album that expresses, precisely, everything you’ve been thinking and feeling and BAM! You come back to life. You’re not alone in this, after all. Other people are on the journey. Other people are facing the void. There might not be many of them – but they’re turning the void into art and it feels less like you have to go it alone.

PUP is a Canadian band. They’ve been to Australia once, with The Smith St Band (they even played in Canberra) and are on their way back out to play in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle in October on a headlining tour. (Tickets purchased, even though the Sydney show is on a Tuesday. #committed)

In 2014 PUP released their first album and were part of a tour with The Menzingers, Cayetana and Lemuria that this writer was lucky enough to see in New Orleans.

They’ve only been around since 2013 which is crazy when you consider that their first album, PUP, feels like timeless punk and their follow up, The Dream Is Over, is like a fireball shot directly past the sun – feeling like it’s either gonna set the whole universe on fire, or go down swinging, taking all of rock and roll with it.

PUP is renowned for having super engaging videos, too. They’ve uploaded 9 to their YouTube channel and watching each, one after the other, feels seamless and necessary (except for the ads spliced between.) You can binge watch them just as easily you can a new season of The Walking Dead. Some are cinematic, some are animated. All of them are awesome.

PUP’s first album, PUP, is thrashy, urgent and commanding – lyrics like, “Take your clothes off; meet me at the reservoir” are oddly relatable and persuasive. They toured it a bunch, including in New Orleans and Australia, and, as singer Stefan Babcock recounts to Dan Ozzi for Noisey, it helped literally tear his vocal chords and prompt a warning from his doctor that he should give up music because ‘The Dream Is Over’.

PUP’s second album, ‘The Dream Is Over’, is next level. It’s actually that good. Babcock clearly didn’t take his doctor’s advice because this time around there’s just as much shouting and screaming, but, arguably, way more heart. Not knowing them, I can’t say why. But it feels like we’re in it together, so here goes.

Track one: If this tour doesn’t kill you, I will – You’re easily annoying enough to meet some kind of Darwin Awards end but I’m prepared to help out if you don’t quite make it the whole way.

Track two: DVP – Growing up, heartache and alcohol are bffs – my bffs.

Track three: Doubts – Going your own way is super hard and the jury’s still out on whether it’s worth it.

Track four: Sleep in the Heat – Forming attachments to animals is way safer than getting close to humans.

Track five: The Coast – Guard yourself against small minds or they’ll suck the life out of you.

Track six: Old Wounds – You’re not what I would call an addition to my life.

Track seven: My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier – There’s nothing to hold on to but I’m still holding on.

Track eight: The Dream Is Over – The middle of the ride is a confusing kinda place.

Track nine: Familiar Patterns – You can’t get out without going through.

Track ten: Pine Point – Life goes on.

Available on Bandcamp, the first listen lasts roughly 30 minutes and then you replay it to eternity, which obviously lasts forever. The suggested $10 USD price works out at roughly $14 AUD – which is roughly three coffees, two thirds of a movie ticket or one and a half trashy magazines. Worth it.

Here’s the thing with new albums. If there’s a chance that I’m gonna fall hard, then I resist. I do. It’s a lot easier to not feel or relate than it is to lose control. But albums like this one impress upon you that the best way forward is to stay the course, follow your own path, go your own way. Listen to your inner Stefan Babcock and sing through broken vocal chords. It’s probably a good thing if your decisions don’t make sense to other people. It’s probably a good thing if you’re going against the traffic. Probably.

It’s only the moment that’s meant to matter. Making the best of this moment might increase the chances of the next moment being pretty good, too, and maybe that’s how you build a life. Maybe that’s what you learn with tracks one through ten as your soundtrack. With the next band that changes your life.

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