Jarvis Cocker | Further Complications

Rough Trade (2009)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  May 12, 2009
2.0 2.0 Stars

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For his second solo album, the former Pulp frontman lays waste to his typically polished sound with the help of de-prettier Steve Albini. The supposed Albini Effect loosens up the rarefied formalism of Jarvis and plops tweed-jacketed garage rock within the slack.

Sometimes the collaboration yields big rewards: "Angela" charges forward like a Nuggets leftover, and "Homewrecker!" plays like the Stooges at a sock hop (this comparison is helped along by Cocker's hooting and hollering, not to mention Steve MacKay's honking sax). More often, though, the results of Cocker's grittying-up are counterproductive. In place of a shiny gloss complementing the misanthropic darkness, we get a one-dimensional exhibition of the rock-and-roll animal descending into the second half of his life.

The meta quality of the immoral, libidinous singer refracted through unblinking irony feels too transparent for a songwriter of Cocker's depth — admissions like "I never said I was deep/But I am profoundly shallow" and dinosaur jokes used as pick-up lines at the Museum of Paleontology bring to mind another Cocker and his artless reading of "You Can Leave Your Hat On." The lesson remains: never underestimate the filthy desperation of the male ego.
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