★ (out of 5 stars)
People keep describing Canada’s Pup as “bratty, beer-fueled punk,” but these guys sound more like Promise Ring disciples than devotees of the Germs or D.O.A. Not just in the bruised, sing-songy catharsis that marks Pup’s songwriting, mind you, but also in the slicker-than-refined-oil production, courtesy of Weezer Red Album knob-twiddler Dave Schiffman. Although there are a few moments worth relishing on this freshman effort (the soaring melody of “Reservoir” burns bright; “Mabu” sways with a nice jaunt), too much of Pup is bogged down by a cloying sap we’ve heard far too many times before from suburban introverts who can only Fugazi their feelings. Any surprise this outfit used to be called Topanga, in earnest, after the love interest from Boy Meets World? They changed it to Pup because of the forthcoming Girl Meets World reboot. Standing down to Disney? That’s definitely not punk.