Further Complications (Rough Trade)
What influenced ex-Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker – he of the smart, cutting lyrics and tweed jackets – to take direction from producer Steve Albini – he of abrasive alt-rock – for his disappointing second solo album?
Was it Albini’s band Rapeman, or perhaps his work with Flogging Molly?
It’s hard to say, but it’s easy to spot the failures of such a pairing. Cocker doesn’t know what to do over fuzzy, big-beat alt, often opting for cathartic noises instead of actual singing. His brilliant, whispery, Gainsbourgh-like vocal delivery is replaced by base shouting, his hilarious wordplay reduced to grating, beat-poet-like observations.
Understandably, Cocker wants to depart from the likes of Common People, his stylish yet timeless Britpop anthem, but why leave his strongest suit – wry, dense lyricism – behind? In place of a chorus in Angela, he repeats the title maybe 30 times. Then, in the very next track, there’s not a single word. This from the man who wrote Babies!
More than a decade out of Britpop, it may be that Cocker can’t figure out his place in modern music. Wherever that place may be, it’s definitely not in the dated alt-90s fare found here.
Top track: I Never Said I Was Deep