As a people, the Brits seem to have been dished up an extra helping of melancholy. Eminent limey Jarvis Cocker has, in fact, elevated pensiveness to an art form.
As an ardent Pulp fan, I raise an eyebrow at the title of Cocker and co.’s latest offering: We Love Life.
Pulp, in its various incarnations, has offered anthems for the downtrodden since 1978. Different Class, in 1995, is unquestionably one of the finest albums of the decade. Its over-the-top combination of glam rock, disco, Europop and indie rock, combined with Cocker’s savvy narration, turns even a morning-after excursion to the fish ‘n’ chip shop into a sensitive romantic epic. The cynical and rather disappointing follow-up album, This Is Hardcore, descends into a bleak, claustrophobic tale of fame gone bad.
We Love Life is surprisingly, optimistic, though without sacrificing Pulp’s sophisticated sense of irony. It is an organic album, both literally and figuratively. Acoustic guitars and the occasional twelve-string have replaced Candida Doyle’s distinctive synth. The album opens with “Weeds,” a resounding militant anthem, which is seamlessly followed by Cocker’s whispering intonation in “Weeds II (the Origin of the Species).” The tongue-in-cheek “Bad Cover Version” is a droll standout track.
There is a clear maturation in the Pulp sound. Cocker seems to have found a comfortable place in the grand scheme of musical things. And somewhere between the impassioned Different Class and the despairing This Is Hardcore sits We Love Life, equally comfortable.
[Erin James doesn’t love your life.]