Thursday, May 14th, 2009
I Never Said I Was Deep
Review of Jarvis Cocker's Further Complications
RankinI don’t know if the Sheffield home where Jarvis Cocker grew up actually had a garage, but even if it did I have trouble picturing young Jarv out there, bashing away with friends making loud rock music, what with Pulp being nearly the definition of the cerebral art school band and really, the polar opposite of that aesthetic. And yet Cocker’s second solo album Further Complications, out on Tuesday, finds Cocker trying out the whole rock band thing at the age of 45.
To that end, he teamed up with American producer – sorry, engineer – Steve Albini to record the record, again an aesthetic shift that’s pretty drastic compared to Richard Hawley’s rich and classic-sounding work on Jarvis. And while Complications is drier, rougher and more guitar-driven than most anything that Cocker has done before, Albini’s sonic approach is more in line with his work with The Wedding Present than, say, PJ Harvey.
And while the shock of it may take some getting used to for the longtime listener, Cocker sounds like he’s having a blast with it, shouting, whooping and generally living out some long-suppressed rock’n’roll dreams. But even so, he’s still Jarvis – he makes no attempts to try and BE a garage rocker. He’s not playing a part, decked out in torn jeans and flannel shirt. No, he’s still up there with the big specs and the skinny suit – okay, the beard is new – and most importantly, his wit. In keeping with the loose and direct vibe of the music, Complications boasts some of Cocker’s goofiest lyrics, eschewing the wry social observer perspective that usually informs his work for just straight-up fun and funny.
For those hoping for another grand, classically Cocker album in the style of Jarvis, Complications might seem like a bit of a disappointment, a curious stylistic detour, but the thing about Jarvis is that now that he’s back, he’s back. All accounts are that the extended post-Pulp hiatus was a necessity, but that he’s quite enjoying the writing and recording and performing again so even if this isn’t entirely your cup of tea, enjoy it regardless – maybe while reading the lyrics in the liner notes – and wait for the next one.
And speaking of waiting, I’ve been told that there’s plans for North American touring in the Fall, so fingers crossed that Jarvis will grace a Toronto stage again soon, for the first time in over a decade since Pulp’s final gig at Massey Hall.
Cocker took over as pop single reviewer for a day at The Guardian – bon mots abound. There’s also interviews with Cocker at The Mail On Sunday, Scotland On Sunday and The Independent. And XFM reports that those holding their breath waiting for a Pulp reunion will likely die of asphyxiation. Well, I’m paraphrasing.
Maximo Park takes Quicken The Heart out for a Black Cab Session. There’s also an excerpt of their cover feature over at Artrocker and another interview at The Independent. They’re at Lee’s Palace on September 18.
So in case you missed the Twitter/Facebook “WTF?!?” shitstorm yesterday afternoon, the Olympic Island festival scheduled for July 11 and featuring Broken Social Scene and Explosions In The Sky has been canceled – no official reason given. This is obviously a disappointment to many – I for one had really been looking forward to hearing EITS on the Island at sunset – but what can you do. Well if you’re Broken, then you can immediately announce a make-up show that same day, July 11, at Harbourfront Centre. And make it free. That’s a pretty good consolation prize, no? Of course, the crowd is going to be a circus dropped in the middle of a zoo, but that’s part of the fun. Also, eye talks to Stuart Berman, author of This Book Is Broken, the new book on Broken Social Scene.
Okay, Manhattan beckons. And to a lesser degree, Connecticut and Brooklyn.