Sunday, April 01, 2007

Jarvis Cocker--Jarvis (2006)

Artist-Jarvis Cocker
Release Date-Nov 13, 2006
Genre/Style-Singer/Songwriter Alternative Pop/Rock
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Review-Can hips be witty? Jarvis Branson Cocker proved it last year as part of the stellar ensemble for Come So Far for Beauty, the Leonard Cohen tribute. Spanish handclaps, snaky stage moves, an irony in his deep and oh-so-English voice that could come on like a taste within a single word, yet never compromise a moment that mattered: oh yeah, Cocker caught the eye and ear completely, the clown prince of the occasion.

If you knew Cocker's old band Pulp, you'd already be aware of this mix of sly and heartfelt. Most people saw Pulp's height as 1995's Different Class, one of the anthemic records behind the Britpop phenomenon. I always preferred the darkness and sophistication of 1998's This Is Hardcore, Cocker's mid-life pop-star crisis record, crashing Bond theme orchestrations and Bowie glam frosts together with pornographic confessions on his own used-up identity. Something had to give, and it seems it was Pulp, as well as Cocker's long-term relationship at the time.

Now married to a French stylist, and a new dad to boot, he finally returns with a very fine solo album indeed. It resounds with booming Nancy Sinatra ballads ("Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" was actually written for her) and Spector-ish cathedrals of space, not to mention a brilliantly naked sample of "Crimson & Clover" on his song "Black Magic." Much like Pulp, yes: as the gunning guitars and bam-bam, garage-rock drums of "Fat Children" ("took my life") or the crooning piano menace of "I Will Kill Again" (his serial murderer benignly enjoys "half a bottle of wine") variedly and further suggest. Behind the bookish glasses and op-shop hipster image, Cocker has always been a great storyteller, an outwardly playful satirist with a ferocious moral vision of modern English life. Over the ambient hum of "Quantum Theory" he sings "somewhere everyone is happy. Somewhere fish do not have bones." Strangely enough, you can feel this almost angry romantic wants to believe it. It's probably because he really cares.

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