Jarvis Cocker's undergone some major changes since Pulp's ostensible breakup five years ago. He got married, moved to France, had a kid, and briefly considered retiring from music altogether. (Although he continued penning songs for the likes of Air, Marianne Faithfull, and Charlotte Gainsbourg.) So it makes sense that the songs on Jarvis
, the debut album from the now-elder statesman of Brit pop, would display a major shift in worldview. Like Elvis Costello's post-Attractions work, Jarvis
is a somewhat muted, though musically varied, affair that's redeemed by Cocker's ever-sardonic eye. Pulp's edgy glam-rock is replaced with a broad range of approaches, some more effective than others. Highlights include the dark piano balladry of "I Will Kill Again"; the swooning '60s pop-infused "Baby's Coming Back to Me"; and a bombastic, sample-driven repurposing of "Crimson and Clover" in "Black Magic."
The terminally horny obsessions of Cocker's Pulp personae are also absent, by and large (except for a moment in the opening track, "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time": "'Cause the years fly by in an instant/ And you wonder what he's waiting for/ Oh, then some skinny bitch walks by in some hot pants/ And he's a-running out the door.") This evolution is to be expected, though. The 44-year-old singer's newfound family life informs many of the tunes, sometimes directly ("You can tell your children that everything's gonna be just fine," he sings in "Disney Time"). In songs like "From Auschwitz to Ipswitch" and "Quantum Theory," Cocker even ponders the future of humanity a far cry from the days of "sorting for E's." J. Niimi