Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis
When i fist listened to this record I thought it was dense and uninspiring. Luckily that feeling didn't last long. Actually the songs are catchy. They are pop. And they are listenable. Scott Walker being one of Jarvis' great idols(Scott produced Pulp's 'We love life') I was worried that Jarvis was going to disappear up his own backside. He lives in France.
More 'This is hardcore' than 'Different class' this album is very strong on melody and sentiment and Jarvis has always had a particular way with lyrics. Overall its a downbeat record but with grandiose muscical backing. It sounds Spectorish at times. Walkerish at times. Jarvis is in fine voice and is always a pleasure to listen to.
'The Loss Adjuster (Excerpt I)' is a very short piano instrumental placed it seems at the start of the record solely to lull us intoa false sense of peace before the harsh intro to 'Don't let him waste your time'. A great beefy song and melody. you'll be whistling along to this one.Lyrics are a bit of a downer though; 'You ain't getting no younger'.
'Black magic' is completely based on a Crimson & Clover sample and none the worse for it. J sounds in pain and has one thing to live for, one thing to keep him going, Black magic. What is that? He's practically bawling his heart out here. Straining his voice and his soul.
Despite the name'Heavy weather' is actually light relief after the heavy drums and caterwauling of 'Black Magic'. Complete with the sound of thunder Jarvis tells us' looks like we're in for stormy weather'. Jarvis steps right up to the mike here and sings in his deep throaty way. A bit reminiscent of past and present backing guitarist, Richard Hawley(the wonderful Richard Hawley). There's a brilliant rousing chorus, all driven vocals and chiming guitars. Its almost Byrdsian. It is Byrdsian. One of my favourite tracks. Despite singing about 'death and destruction'.
'I will kill again' is a slow track telling a story. It talks about his guy, normal enough life, does all the average suburban things that Jarvis loves to sing about. The punchline, although it is also the title of the song, is that this next door joe will, 'given half a chance', kill again. There's a nice string arrangement but for me the lyrics sound a bit too strained to be effective.
There's some nice vibraphone and glockenspiel on the 60's easy listening pastiche of 'Baby's coming back to me'. Again this evokes the 60's crooner furrow that Richard hawley has been ploughing for the past few years. Again its a very closely miked experience complete with echo that will raise goosepimples on your neck. Song itself is good but not brilliant.
Side 2 starts off with the raucous rock 'n roll of 'Fat children took my life'. Primitive drums, repetitive guitar solo(almost) and Jarvis rckin' out like he's never rocked before. Is he joking or just having fun?? Backing music here sounds like harder music from the shoegazing days. A wall of guitar noise with that metronomic drumbeat. Jarvis had a dream and he was killed by Fat childrena and now roams the streets as a spirit. Of course Jarvis.
'From Auschwitz to Ipswich'' has some lovely haiwaiwan guitar and sing along choruses on it. it also reminds me of one of those singalongs you used to see on children's television, complete with pauses so everyone can get the message/join in. It seems to be based on the premise that 'All it takes for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing'. Jarvis finishes off by suggesting that 'they' can take his life too.
All in all Jarvis is the sound of someone who has strived for years for success, found it and then realised it really wasn't what he wanted after all. But then we always knew that about him didn't we? I wonder if living in France helps. Probably helps him escape some of the fame he would know in the UK. Jarvis ia a great album. We can hope for more from him.
'Disney time' sounds biblical in its description of what seems like theend of teh world. Its certainly impressive but won't be on repeat.
At last on 'Tonite' Jarvis talks about normal decent things like having sex and taking drugs.There's a guy going 'Bam bam bam bam' in the background which makes me think of Sons of the Pioneers, those country singing legends. This is then backed up by some slide guitar. Actually its Haiwaian but it sounds like slide :) Don't worry! Jarvis has not adopted a faux southern US accent.
Chasing dreams is the subject on 'Big Julie'. Possibly a girl growing up and trying to get on with the world. Its a slow fast song and builds up to the largest crescendo so far on the album, when finally at the end, 'Big Julie rules the world'. Helped out by a rousing orchestra of strings.
'The Loss adjuster (Excerpt II)' passes as quickly as Excerpt I.
The album proper ends in a slow acoustic manner with 'Quantum Theory'. This is also the most hopeful song on the album. 'God may be dead' but 'everything is going to be alright'. I guess this is as positive as it gets in Jarvis world. Or maybe its just a sop to us as his fans.
The cd contains a 'hidden' track at the end. The previously released 'Cunts are still running the world'. The vinyl has this semi hidden on a 7" record mounted on a special insert in the other half of teh gatefold. Lyrics are neatly printed on the label of the 7" itself. Its a great track, fighting back at all the corrupt politicians, businessmen and leaders of the world. Probably the brightest and best song on the album this is the kind of song you want to be singing after pubs close on a Saturday night. As well as 9am on a Monday morning. Funnily enough its a lot brighter recording too and while reasonably harsh has emerged from the murky recording of the rest of the album. And near the end of this in rousing the masses Jarvis sounds as happy as he's ever been.
This is a pop album, but its a downer of an album. Its letting you in on J's mind although lyrically seems not to be as personal as the Pulp albums were. Arrangements are intricate, exquisite and very lovely.
Sonically I'm not at all impressed. It sounds very dense and compressed. Digital jobbie and not so good. Whereas Richard hawley's albums are a joy to listen to, open and warm and breathing, this is claustorphobic. This may be the intention but I don't think so. Perhaps someone could tell us. this sound will actually put me off playing the album too often. Pressing is fine although my copy has a slight warp which doesn't affect play. Packaging is excellent. Gatefold vinyl with an inner picture sleeve, all on thick cardboard and the extra insert that holds the hidden track, the 7" single on the vinyl edition.