- This is Hardcore
("I am not Jesus, though I have the same initials")
Cocker has certainly become a household name in Britain over
the past couple of years. Jarvis, who? you say?
Not surprising. Pulp has taken its time breaking through
the confines of hippity-hop Brit-pop and charging head-on
onto the USs music scene. In fact, it had taken
twelve years for the band to gain some much-deserved respect
in the UK with their ground-breaking 1995 album, Different
Class. (For those of you lacking mathematics skills,
that would date the formation of the band in the year 1983,
when Sting had a lot more hair and U2 were still sporting
some strange quasi-afros.)
With the release of their album
This is Hardcore, Pulp has shown that a great album
is better late than never. They have discovered that
Brit-pop does not have to be manufactured from a plastic mold
with too-cheery vocals and a skippy drum beat. This
album is much darker than its compatriots, lamenting the fact
that we are all aging and getting closer to death with every
breath we take (sorry-- that was an unintentional Sting reference).
The first track, "The Fear,"
has an eerie "Hotel California" quality coupled
with Freddy Mercury vocals by Cocker -- you can see why this
song may become a bit too mellow-dramatic and even ridiculous
after the first verse. The other songs, especially the
ballad "Help the Aged," are of a more fitting emotional
quality. The band introduces some cool jazz brass into
the title track ("This is Hardcore") and produces
a Perry Mason type bass line. Jarviss vocals are
superb (of course, not as superior as those of Britains
chief agonizer, Thom Yorke, but adequate) and the creativity
in instrument choice and style are a breath of fresh air.
Just because of the subject matter,
do not think that Pulp has taken on a sentimental air.
They approach aging with dark bluntness, with lines like,
"Help the Aged / One day they were just like you / drinking,
smoking cigs and sniffing glue" ("Help the Aged").
But why dedicate an album to the
countless helpless in geriatrics wards and aging night-clubbers?
It seems Jarvis Cocker has reached his mid-thirties, which
will in time give way to middle-age -- time for cholesterol
checks, love-handles, hair loss, but most of all, maturity.
This new-found maturity has led to the realization that albums
can be given a more cinematic quality. In fact, This
is Hardcore plays just like a movie, jumping back and
forth between youth and the geriatric ward. So sit back,
grab a bucket of buttery popcorn, and enjoy the show -- that
is, if you arent worried about your cholesterol.