Pup – ‘The Dream Is Over’ Review

Posted: by Henderson

Pup exploded onto the scene with their debut self titled album in 2014. They appeared on our screens via the Canadian internet, and were instantly one of the freshest sounds in the punk world. The album was great. Their music videos kicked ass. They combined explosive hardcore energy with melodies and hooks that were catchy, but still raw and emotional as hell. It was a fun sound, and I think everyone was hoping for more of the same on the follow up. The Dream Is Over is out May 27th on SideOneDummy, and let me just tell you that not only is it more of that Pup flavor, it’s new and improved.

Squealing guitars and a nonstop beat keep this record driving with a ferocious intensity — like if Joyce Manor played everything the speed of ‘Catalina Fight Song’ or faster. After each track, you expect the band to collapse in a heap, but then boom; the next song begins in an endless torrent of emotion. Sure, it’s only 30 minutes, but all 10 tracks hold their own and with the reckless abandon that Pup play, it feels like they squeezed 45 minutes onto this thing. There are no side dishes. Every track is a single.

This record sounds great, but more importantly it feels real. There is so much emotion and anguish in everything Pup do. No surprise that their vocalist’s throat exploded and nearly ended his career. This record delves into all the shittiness that is being in a band, and life in general in 2016. Your band is big? Guess what? You’re still broke, and in 10 minutes people will forget who you are. The people that are supposed to care about you the most? One day they won’t. Your throat is hurt? Now you have nothing. Great. Life these days is fucking brutal. The indie rock dream is dead. But this album isn’t doom and gloom, it is angry defiance. Yeah everything sucks, but I’m still here and I refuse to go away. The dream might be over, but Pup won’t let it stop them.

The track ‘Cant Win’ is a perfect example, an anthem for struggling creatives everywhere. Artists are mistreated in our society and put down because they are different and fail to conform to the normal life. Without a doubt, Pup are feeling some of that. “I get a little more nervous every day. I just want to be something. I never thought I’d be nothing at all. And it feels like I can’t win… You say I never try but you know I do. I couldn’t live with my nine to five.” I’m not sure if there is another song that more perfectly conveys the feeling of being rejected by those around you for your aspirations. This theme continues into the next track, ‘Familiar Patterns,’ which screams at the sky “I spent a long time trying to make it. But when I finally faced the facts, I never felt so shitty before. I never felt so miserable.” Yeah, 2016 is not a kind time to be an artist, but fuck it. Real artists never had a choice.

Through and through this album is relatable. There is a messy and emotional honesty throughout that I would compare to Jeff Rosenstock’s last album. The opening track, “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You I Will” is a singalong that perfectly conveys the hatred that grows for people you are confined with for too long (the video is insane). A feeling anyone who has ever had a coworker or roommate knows well, let alone anyone who has ever spent time touring. And then the second track, ,’DVP’, is a self-reflective admittance that welp — I’m a mess mentally and emotionally. I’ve been there. Maybe you have too. But how do you turn that feeling into an explosive punk song??? Pup found a way to do exactly that.

There are some parts of the album where they slow down just a notch. It is still the same sound but just a touch slower and with a bit more emphasis on poetic melodies. It works, and it shows the ability to display variety even within their own style like Donovan Wolfington’s album exhibited exceptionally well last year. Pup’s lyrics are particularly thoughtful on these slower tracks, especially on ‘The Coast’ — a track about the bitterness and despair of frozen Canadian winters. A feeling even most of us Americans can associate with. Did I mention this album was relatable?

I’ve seen a few critics saying that this album is simple, or “pop”, and I honestly have no idea what they are talking about. Have they listened to The Ramones? That is simple punk. This is complex. The songs build, they open up, they vary in structure.  There are melodies and hooks that make the tracks more accessible and memorable. Is making a track more listenable pop? Sure, kind of, but this is not pop music. This is a fresh take on legitimate punk music, and I am loving it. The Dream Is Over. Long live Pup.


You can purchase The Dream Is Over here!