Monday, May 25, 2009

He Never Said He Was Clever...

Further Complications
Jarvis Cocker

There will be a special place in heaven/purgatory/hell for Jarvis Cocker, depending on how it goes. There will be. For one thing, here is an individual who started a band in his teens, never managed to break big, kept at it until he was "on the wrong side of" thirty, and then had a massive hit with "Common People," one of the finest songs you'll ever hear. Not only that, but "Common People" came from an album, Different Class, which can reside comfortably in the upper echelon of pop music accomplishments. It's in my Top 10 All Time.

So, he released an album consumed with genius, and then had to follow it up, which he did with an album that's possibly even better, if less loved, with 1997's This Is Hardcore. Point is, he set high standards that are almost impossible to follow up. But he tries. He didn't really succeed with his first solo album, Jarvis (left), but it wasn't awful. But what's important is he keeps trying. There will be a special place for him for his perseverance.

There will also be a special place for the man who can write a song called "I Never Said I Was Deep," a song that includes the lyric, "If life's a two way street, then I was screwing in the back while you were in the driver's seat." I love that, and I love that he hasn't lost "it," whatever "it" is. I've recently converted to a view that Genius is not part of a person, but something a person comes into contact with from time to time, and I'm glad to see Jarvis has not completely lost touch with his.

Produced in a surprisingly raw fashion (For those who have listened to his first solo offering, the whole thing sounds like "Fat Children"), it suits him. He sounds like, and has taken the role of, a north-of-middle-age pervert, looking for a good lay with a pretty young thing. He sings of girls giving over-enthusiastic handjobs, something you don't hear about very often.

Jarvis was overflowing with songs based on pedantic ideas, like "Heavy Weather," which borrowed its central metaphor from every other Creedence Clearwater Revival song you've ever heard (Read: Heavy weather represents the approach of bad things). "Heavy Weather" was, and is, a very good song, but the album was bogged down but a lack of original ideas, or original ways of telling old ones. What's so heartening to hear is that Jarvis seems to have stumbled back upon his muse, and found new ways to get at those pesky Further Complications.

Grade: B

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