Rochester, NY, United States
‘Probably Fine’ is a hard rock grunge album from NY kings, Lupis. The album features classic sounds from 90s icons, bringing tones all the way to the present using modern songwriting techniques and feelings to create a harmonious concoction, a sludgy delight. The album sways this way and that, never too softly, there’s always a hard-hitting beat or riff packed somewhere in there and finding it is the joy of the album. There are loads to unpack in ‘Probably Fine’. At its core it's a love letter to grunge stars past, tones now forgotten, and straight-up screaming your head off for the sake of a cracking tune.
The album kicks off with, ‘Catsup Packet’. The whine of guitar feedback and the reverb of the room slide in, filling you with a sense of nostalgia straight away. The instruments rile up the energy, all climbing to a peak of sound. Then they drop out, leaving only a guitar, that is chorused all the way to 11, by its lonesome. It strums out a swinging chord progression, and the song has its hook. The bass and drums jump back in with the vocals and again another harken to the 90s. With an attitude like Cobain but a scream like Weiland, the vocals pull the funk and grime into the track, tying the whole thing up with a grunge-plaid bow. The chorus is beefy and it pairs down for the verses and bridge sections. A solid opener, one that definitely makes you aware of what you’re in for and just what Lupis can do. Which, thankfully, is grunge out with the best of them.
The album progresses with haste. ‘Thursday’ hits next and it's a jovial, weird and more upbeat grunge offering. It leans more toward heavy rock with its vocals and chorus. It's a change that Lupis make often in ‘Probably Fine’, with other songs like ‘Hogmire’ taking the same direction. It's a meeting of tones and genres that reads like Alice in Chains had an affair with Metallica and it's wonderful. Don’t let yourself think that due to Lupis's versatility you will go without grunge album staples, oh no never. Slower sludgier tracks like, ‘Mealworm’ and ‘Staying Home’ bring that 90s image and feeling into ‘Probably Fine’ in true baggy jean fashion. They are thick and warm, full of great drum fills and bass lines. Especially on these slower songs, throughout grunge history, the bass has been the king of the melody and it is no different here with Lupis. The bass sits alone with the vocals in a lot of cases without even drums. It's a brave choice and it works a dream.
Want to know what songs to listen to in order to get the definitive Lupis sound? Got you covered. ‘Chunky Milk’ for me is a honing of what Lupis does best. Dissonant guitar melodies, plucked and sharp in the back, the bass carries the melody with the vocals as the drums pick the tempo and attitude for the song. It all comes together as, well, Lupis. These tacts are also used in, ‘Synonym Roll’ to great effect; A much faster song and one that will get a mosh pit excited at any venue (10 bonus points for the best song name I’ve heard in a good long while).
I could truly write a book on the evolution of grunge and its texture, how it forced itself into pop and even disco stylings of the 00s. If I had to cover the history of grunge Lupis would be there, they are a gathering of musicians playing with the epitome of the genre. They’re not here adding gimmicks or breaking expectations. They get in, plug in, turn it up and play grunge as it was meant to be played. ‘Liberry Bush’ with its open power chords, ‘Here With You’ and its slower sound, cello and keys, and ‘Try Again’ with its unusual and sometimes jazzy acoustic chords. It all adds up to grunge, pedigree grunge. There are many
more songs on ‘Probably Fine’ each is a favourite and each lives up to the Lupis heritage. If there’s an indie band out there who deserves to play louder, I haven’t heard of them.