A Fabulous Return To Form
It must have been with great trepidation that iconic Pulp frontman and geek-made-cool Jarvis Cocker decided to return to the forefront of the British music scene and release a solo album. It was always a risky business; fans would bemoan any change in direction, while the Pulp zeitgeist will always be impossible to recapture, even with Cocker's recent live appearance with former bandmates Richard Hawley and Steve Mackay. Thankfully 'Jarvis' is a debut that does exactly what debuts should; it sets down the man's manifesto and introduces a fresh new act, albeit one we may have met in a past life.
Jarvis is as iconoclastic as ever from the outset with song titles like 'I Will Kill Again', a soft ballad that soon takes a vitriolic twist in both key change and lyrics, "Don't believe me if I claim to be your friend/Given half the chance I know that I will kill again." If that didn't sound enough like a Morrissey title, 'Baby's Coming Back To Me' perhaps shows a slice of Jarvis' new French lifestyle with cool calypso beats rippling away behind the painfully naive lyrics with the same dichotomy between music and meaning that the former Smiths' frontman carries off oh so well. Thankfully Jarvis takes life far less seriously than Morrissey, or we'd never have gems like 'Fat Children'.
'Don't Let Him Waste Your Time' is an upbeat pop song full of verve, in many ways it's the opposite of the wayward confusion of the classic album, 'This Is Hardcore'; Jarvis is now settled enough to write tunes that proffer advice. 'Black Magic' is a tightly-produced, 80's rock giant distilled through Cocker's effortlessly selfless demeanour, therefore removing the usual ego and creating a sharp tune with spasms of synth and drums that will have you dancing like an idiot in no time.
'Heavy Weather' is a lush indie tune with big guitars and plenty of classic Cocker lyrical nuggets, "Stormy weather always makes me think of you". 'Fat Children' is a drugged up rock monster, shaking with confidence and raging guitars and faux bile in lyrics such as, "Ah the parents are the problem,[...]So hand it to your pampered little princess of such enormous size". 'Disney Time' is another amazing highlight, with dark murmurs beneath the hushed vocals and simpering keyboards; it's an eerie delight attacking the false assurances parents bestow upon their offspring.
Jarvis' eponymous solo debut isn't Pulp, but this is a relief, it cuts the great social commentator a whole new role that reaches beyond the Brit Pop of Pulp and opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. Closer 'Quantum Theory' epitomises this sense of opportunity in its calm refrain, "Everything is going to be alright", except for Jarvis it will be more than alright, it will once again be enlightening, refreshing and truly special.