Pop review: Jarvis Cocker: Further Complications

(Rough Trade)

This is a strange one. There's no way I'd never write a sniffy Jarvis review, but Further Complications's combination of Britpop's favourite singing geography teacher, his present band and producer Steve Albini has created an album that doesn't quite satisfy.

Albini, known for his work with Nirvana and the Pixies, is essentially a live rock producer, meaning he likes bands to play in a room together and pumps up the rhythm section in the mix. All fine, but that way, you lose the vocals and why would you want not to hear what Jarvis has to say?

That is unless he's made an LP about a midlife sexual crisis. Which he has. Though every track has at least one treasurable one-liner, the similarity of subject ("Angela", "Leftovers" , "I Never Said I Was Deep", "Fucking song", "Slush" , "You're in My Eyes" are all about sex and/or love) does get wearing, especially when each is accompanied by a sub-Stooges/Stones wig out and some very annoying drumming. "Leftovers", the fourth track, is the first recognisably Jarvis song – "I met her in the museum of paleontology and I make no bones about it" – and even that comes with those awful drums.

Still, there are moments. The album gets better as it goes along, with penultimate track, "Slush", rather Scott Walkerish and lovely. "Leftovers" revels in the creepiness of older sex ("I fall on your neck like a vampire/ Who faints at the sight of blood"). "Hold Still" is pretty, "Homewrecker!" a punk hoot and "Slush" would be brilliant if it wasn't drowned in twiddly cymbals and timpani.

Do we expect too much of Jarvis? As he says himself, I never said I was deep and there's no reason a musician with more than 30 years' experience shouldn't embrace the rock within. But, you know, this is Jarvis. Not only do you expect a more modern, British/ European musical sound, but you ache for wit. You long for Britpop's cleverest lyricist to spit some icy social rage or sympathetic spleen. But he doesn't. So, instead, you get grumpy with the drummer.


Miranda Sawyer

The GuardianTramp

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