I hope we can agree that most people are dorky, neurotic uggos. Life is set up like this so we can better appreciate such stylish weird ducks as Jarvis Cocker. Even if he weren't the ex-front man of the clerisy's favorite English band, he'd be the raddest dude on the block. His weird-duck dance moves; plummy, dulcet speak-sing; and British emaciation are the sex, but in Pulp, he let loose some involving, wry songwriting, mashing up perspicacious social observations with charming narcissism appropriate for his station. Jarvis, his debut solo album, was released in the U.K. months ago, after Cocker took a bunch of years off to make a baby, move to Paris, write music for Charlotte Gainsbourg, work with Air and Nancy Sinatra, direct vids, and be in one of the Harry Potter movies. The album is a collection of boozy, last-call bangers featuring generous spacing and opulent instrumentation. "Black Magic" is the best track, a jerky wail that lifts some goodies from "Crimson and Clover" and '60s girl groups. "Heavy Weather" is the worst, a cheap and cheesy rambler that inexplicably features canned rain. "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time," "I Will Kill Again" and "Fat Children" are Pulp-esque in a way the rest of the record isn't—evidently, Cocker's graceful aging hasn't cured him of rainy ennui and disaffection. What's weirdest about the record is how much it sounds like a drunk guy renting a karaoke room by himself—despite some instrumental stuff, the music is totally inconsistent. The songs, however, are all chicly disaffected, most of them glimmering with Cocker's shrugging wit and eternal coolness.
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