Friday, June 5, 2009

Jarvis Cocker album review

Jarvis Cocker
Further Complications
(Rough Trade)

Lanky, extremely clever and coming across like a depraved college professor, Jarvis Cocker was the most unlikely of Britpop stars in the ‘90s. With Pulp, he combined Roxy Music’s sophisticated glam and Leonard Cohen’s sensual poetry. The band never made it big here, but was on par with Blur and Oasis in the U.K. Once they ended a 20-year run earlier this decade, Cocker became a family man, wrote tunes for legendary female singers and appeared in a Harry Potter flick. His self-titled solo bow in 2007 was a glorious slice of introspective alt-pop.

Longtime fans might raise an arched eyebrow after discovering the singer bashed out Further Complications in a few quick sessions with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies) at the boards and a core band including Pulp’s old bassist. Cocker frequently rocks harder and yelps like never before, especially amid the herky jerky title track, Fall-like instrumental “Pilchard,” crazy sexually charged “Caucasian Blues” and whacked out “Homewrecker,” driven by saxophonist Steve Mackay of Iggy & The Stooges’ Funhouse fame.

Not everything is abrasive though. A densely moody “Slush” could’ve fit on one of Pulp’s final efforts with its large choir, harp and timpani (key lyric: “if I could, I would refrigerate this moment and preserve it for all time”). “You’re in My Eyes (Disco Song),” with a females cooing and Cocker whispering about a hallucination on the dance floor, is pure Philly soul circa 1975. A solid left field turn.

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