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Jarvis Cocker - Further Complications

Jarvis Cocker

Further Complications
(Rough Trade)

Eight years removed from the boldly incandescent Sheffield outfit Pulp’s hiatus, frontman Jarvis Cocker might just have made the great record the world has been waiting on since the Britpop hangover. While Cocker and Pulp created an upbeat parting shot with 2001’s We Love Life (produced by the god-like genius known as Scott Walker), all eyes have remained on Cocker to deliver the sort of cheeky, twisted, and uniquely Yorkshire brand of cocksure hipster passion across an album. For a bit, Cocker got goth-punk with his band Relaxed Muscle, and then made detours trying on the shoes of his great inspirations, like Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg, and Lee Hazelwood (via recording with Ms. Nancy Sinatra). He even managed an amiable and enjoyable first proper solo record—2006’s Jarvis—to remind us all that he was still out there and going for it.

There had to be more left there, however. Cocker remains one of the great, unique, and groundbreaking voices of the 1990s—a figure unmatched for equaling his own bravado and grandiose pomp with a sense of personal shame and self-loathing, with a keen take on class, status, and fame. He even bared his ass on an international television event to protest Michael Jackson. But it took Steve Albini—the noted “don’t call me producer” recording engineer who has made legendary records with the Pixies and Nirvana and recorded everyone from Iggy and the Stooges, Cheap Trick to Buffalo singer/songwriter Tracy Morrow—to really fit Cocker into the right “next” place in the new millennium

Let’s refigure Sir Jarvis’ nuanced, gracefully swaggering posture with a twist of 1960s vocal pop vibrance, garage rock nihilism, and punk-shattering of contextual ennui. Songs like “Angela,” with its vexed, girl-group sort of cool, and the Stooges-style, sax-and-trash thrash of “Homewrecker!” remove Further Complications far from territory that Cocker has dared tread before. Still, Jarvis must be Jarvis. On “Leftovers,” Cocker wanders nearest toward Pulp territory, while veering deliciously toward a Dylan-style delivery matched with the Bard’s penchant for scarred relationship poetis polemics: “He says he loves you like a sister/Well, I guess that’s relative.” “I Never Said I was Deep” hits on vintage Pulp perfection, a “shabby morality” play bathed in ego-streaked, self-loathing panache as only Cocker can deliver in his spoken-sung mix. The nervy, electro-jerking punch of “Fuckinsong” makes for fun, while the “Let’s Spend the Night Together” lift “Caucasian Blues” finds Cocker kicking up a shitstorm of egregious rock fun. “You’re in My Eyes (Discosong)” closes out the affair with nine minutes almost sure to please even the most hardcore Pulp adherents.

The final verdict on Further Complication: This is the most instantly likable and infectious listen that Cocker has unleashed on ears possibly since his masterpiece Common People. With Albini at the board, Cocker has forgotten just enough of his past while remembering the bits that made it all so fantastic. Truly one of the first great listen, listen, and then relisten records of the year.

donny kutzbach

Jarvis Cocker’s Further Complications is available as download and through music retailers this Tuesday, May 19.

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