ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Beyond The Pale by Jarv Is (week beginning 19/7/20)

WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: Save The Whale; Must I Evolve?; Am I Missing Something?; House Music All Night Long; Sometimes I Am Pharaoh; Swanky Modes; Children Of The Echo

The first Pulp album we fell in love with (His’n’Hers) contains a track that pinpoints the exact moment when summer dies (David’s Last Summer), ‘the whole sound of summer packing its bags and preparing to leave town’.

  • Read on for reasons including how Cocker’s new band Jarv Is bring the best out of him since his 90s rise

For anyone who’s lived in a seaside city it’s something real, tangible and sad. Our equivalent yet opposite  Pulp moment was to see them 5th on the bill of the Glastonbury Festival’s NME Stage on an acrylic Sunday afternoon in 1994 and then to return a year later when they triumphantly topped the Saturday night Pyramid Stage line-up.

When an old friend asked us to see them again years later during their 2011 reunion we felt, particularly after seeing them as lacklustre V Festival headliners in 1996, that the elusive pop genie that they had successfully bottled in 1994 and 1995 had somehow escaped at around the point when last single from their best album Different Class (aptly Something Changed) was released.

The good news then is that there is enough here for even the most die-hard Pulp fans to think Jarvis Cocker’s best days might not be behind him. If we’re contemplating resurrection, his initials aren’t JC, as he himself has memorably remarked, for nothing.

Essentially Pulp were at their very best when they broke pop’s rules. Songs much longer than the ideal three minutes only work if they’re very, very good as is the exemplary David’s Last Summer in our opening paragraph.

Our favourite trademark JC moments are undoubtedly those overtly sexual and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny lyrics.

Must I Evolve? (watch above) marries the prog rock (another pop rule broken) of a vital high point like David’s Last Summer, rhymes ‘first time’ with ‘pond slime’ and offers the deadpan yet brilliant spoken word: ‘one dark night there was a Big Bang, Maybe a small bang, actually more of a pop’.

There’s also a question and answer, call and response that can’t help but provoke a smile. ‘Must I develop? (Yes, yes, yes, yes), Can I stay the same? (No, no, no, no).’

And JC has been true to his word. The lyrics may be as razor-sharp as before but the subject matter seems particularly well suited to a man in his 57th year.

Like Madonna’s MDNA album, Jarv Is is a different band but it distils what is best about him and reminds of Pulp in their pomp but with a fuller, slightly more imaginative sound than immediately before they split up the first time.

House Music All Night Long (watch above) is the reason why we’re here and the lyric, so apt in lockdown, can’t help but stroke a chord: ‘Saturday night, cabin fever in house nation, This is one nation under a roof Ain’t that the truth. Godamn this claustrophobia, ‘Cause I should be disrobing you.’

A few short lyrics to reassure you Jarvis is back to his best. Ultimately, there are too few tracks here and there’s nothing quite so short and summed up as Pulp on their pop throne but there’s enough to make us excited to see JC front Jarv Is live on tour in November including a gig at Camden Roundhouse.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Jarv Is Tickets
  • Have you seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook


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