Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis
- Artist: Jarvis Cocker
- Album: Jarvis
- Label: Rough Trade
- Year of Release: 2006
- ME Rating:
- Reviewed by: charlesmartel on 2012-07-02
Not surprising then, that after an absence of four years, having apparently given up music (and the London scene with it), his first solo album is full of the contradictions which define the man. Never one to shy away from controversy, his album comes with a parental advisory sticker, no doubt imposed by those who remember his witty, bitter, funny, ill-advised, downloadable diatribe against all the "cunts" who in his view were still responsible for everything - and that track, "Running the World", puts in an appearance as the hidden track at the end of the album.
Yes, Jarvis Cocker, the Bard of Sheffield; more Arctic than Monkey; the not-to-be-confused-with his gruff namesake, Joe, produces a solo album which combines the anti-establishmentarianism of his indie roots with the pop credentials which made him such an unlikely icon to a generation of disaffected youths. Will this surprise those, now adults, who remember him robbed, as all good acts have been robbed, of a Mercury Award by a bunch of establishment hack judges who wouldn't know originality if it ran up in front of them and pissed in their champagne cocktails and shit all over their salmon blinis.
The album is a comment on society, and the individuals who populate it, as much as anything his neophyte fellow Sheffielders, the Arctic Monkeys, have ever done. He just views society with a detached disgust rather than as a disaffected, alienated participant. The sparky "Fat Children" lambastes the parents of the feral brats who roam our streets causing mayhem, caustically describing them as maggots who haven't the "sense to become flies". As yet another man lies dead, having sought to challenge such kids, the track is especially pertinent. The sinister "I Will Kill Again" echoes the most common phrase, said of serial killers by their neighbours - ‘he was just a normal, nice guy'. Then there is "From Auschwitz to Ipswich" about the inevitable decline of society along with the decline of Empire. Inevitably, the hidden "Running the World", tops the lot.
When it comes to individuals, they fare no better. The opening track, "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" is advice to a female friend about a useless male who is unable to commit. "Big Julie" is as much about loneliness as anything else, while "Baby Coming Back to Me" is an ostensibly happy song until you realise the lover of whom he sings is highly unlikely to put in an appearance. The other tracks all have their message, delivered in variety of radio-friendly styles, yet the unique one here is the final track, "Quantum Theory". This track, with creepy sounding strings and a hollow-effect production which seems to accentuate echoes, albeit briefly, tries to explain the meaning of life to someone who lacks the comprehension, by someone who is unconvinced of it himself. It is, on an album of unsettling tracks, the most unsettling.
In creating this album, Jarvis Cocker has perpetuated the image of himself as an enigma, and projects it onto the wider world. Unashamedly poppy songs are redolent with themes and images which are as far from the saccharine world of pop as you can get. An attempt to bring issues, issues other than "I love you, woo-oo-woo" or "get down, move your body" to the mainstream? Perhaps. But as Cocker surely knows, the mainstream is unlikely to listen, and maybe it is that which fuels his bitterness and sharpens his acerbic wit most of all.
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