Life’s a Complicated Boogie ~ Jarvis Cocker’s Further Complications Reviewed

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Having very much enjoyed hearing Jarvis’ new single Angela (which is included here) and its glam rock vibe I eagerly awaited the new album. Seeking to work in more of a band situation than he did on his eponymous solo debut, he laid down a couple of tracks in Chicago with Steve Albini whilst out there for the Pitchfork Festival.

“I wanted to record them in an environment where we could all play at the same time and hopefully capture something of the spirit of a band all working together, all aiming in the same direction….Plus, it was very cheap.”

That was last July, It went well so they flew back in January to knock out an album. And knocked out it sounds, which is no criticism. It rocks and as Jarvis said, with this band he discovered that he could, so he’d be a fool not to. Amen Cocker.

He rocks on the Batmanesque Homewrecker. What a bloody great racket, with dirty sax wailing all over it. Like early Roxy at their punkest. An angry Jarvis breathes “A homewrecker stalks the streets of the city. Avoiding the issue, still trying to believe he’s the biggest, the strongest, the fittest, the longest & his wife & his kids are asleep.” Dynamite.

Opening with the title track, “Further Complications” (inc quotation marks) this is an angular piece of angst like a great lost XTC single. Birth is just a rehearsal for the strife to come. “It’s a complicated boogie & I don’t know any better, baby.”

The album contains a near-instrumental called Pilchard which sounds like The Fall at their most Can influenced crossed with Pulp’s Party Hard. Nice.

It’s not all glam punk however. Leftovers is a melancholic spoken-word number, like a couple were on This is Hardcore and We Love Life (can’t recall song titles). Very funny lyrics “I met her in the museum of paleontology & I make no bones about it”, compares his ageing skin and bones to the fossilised exhibits then compares himself to a vampire. “Yeah; a vampire who faints at the sight of blood.”

I Never Said I was Deep finds Jarvis a late-night crooner who’s full of self-loathing and needs to confess his shallowness. It’s one of the album’s best tracks. Jarv claims the title is the words he wants engraved on his tombstone. Not for a long time yet, buddy.

Hold Still, another slowie, with Jarv at his most soulful is another of the srongest tracks on an album that at first sounded good, and is growing better with each subsequent listen.

However, the solid rock-funk of Fuckingsong is not to my taste.

Caucasian Blues is another rocker a la Homewrecker sans sax and is bloody ace. A very nice jangly Byrds guitar tries not to get lost in the mix. The tongue-in-cheek press release, obviously by the man himself, claims the song is “an attempt to understand the pain of a man whose Honda Goldwing has run out of petrol.”

Slush is an analysis of post-global warmed world written whilst sailing along the coast of Greenland. Another not to my taste.

Which brings us to You’re in My Eyes (Discosong) which finds Jarvis in downtown Philadelphia c. 1974. With the help of a choir of angels this 9 minute track, though not exactly Barry White, works.

The good news is, brothers and sisters, that Jarvis still walks among us and is still making good and honest music. I so hope though that he’s in a better frame of mind than some of the character’s he’s singing about.

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