Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis

Grade: A-

Pulp's Jarvis Cocker has always had an effortless way with melodies - melodies that sound like they've always been there, familiar and simple, but new and original. He's like Elvis Costello in this way, and it seems inevitable that he'd release a Costello-like record. Jarvis is that record, a more personal but characteristically witty version of a Pulp CD.

It starts out phenomenally, with the catchy and exuberant "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time," a reverb-heavy pop confection that kicks things off perfectly. "Black Magic" is next, and in chord structure and strained "aaaaaah" background vocals, it's effectively a "Crimson and Clover" rewrite, which would be lame if we all didn't secretly want to hear Jarvis Cocker cover Tommy James and the Shondells.

These are a couple of the highlights, and the rest of it is typical Jarvis Cocker, which means you get plenty of nasal Bowie imitations, sharp lyrics, and subtly catchy melodies. It’s a shame that another highlight, the hidden track “Running The World” – with its refrain “cunts are still running the world” - doesn’t have language that earns it full billing. (You’ll hear it, however, during the end credits to the movie Children Of Men.)

The songs that don't quite work here - the overblown rocker "Fat Children" comes to mind - still earn Cocker grades for effort. The record - and all of Pulp's output, really - walks that age-old fine line between clever and stupid, and Cocker knows exactly how to err on the side of clever.

Jarvis Cocker's first solo album has its flaws - it is a frontman's first solo album, after all - but overall, Jarvis is the Pulp record you've been waiting for.

(David Brusie)

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