This is Hardcore


All right, only three months into the new year and I have (finally) come across the first great album of the new year. You can pack it in for Oasis and their Beatles revival, file away Prodigy and electronica as the savior of rock ‘n roll, and give away your Tortoise CDs. I could give you a million reasons to buy the new Pulp CD, This is Hardcore, but I’ll stick to just one, the music.

In much the same way as Paul Weller before him, Jarvis Cocker has the talent and style to capture the politics (sexual and class) that underlie British society. By extension, he also does a pretty good job of nailing some hang-ups at home in the U.S. of A. On This is Hardcore, we find Jarvis and crew in a more reflective mood. Although this disc focuses on such sundry topics as sex, sex, and well, sex, it does so in a manner different than earlier releases such as His ‘n Hers or Different Class. The music is more somber and reflective, lacking much of the poppiness from its predecessors. Instead, we find Pulp exploring those issues most pop artists prefer to ignore, namely, the transience of youth and attempting to hang on. Consider the lyrics to the first single, “Help the Aged”: “Help the Aged, one time they were just like you/ Drinking, smoking cigs, and sniffing glue/ Help the aged, don’t just put them in a home/ Can’t have much fun in there all alone.”

Heavy stuff for pop music, but very beautiful nonetheless. One aspect that I should point out is how sexy and romantic some of this music is (as if you’d expect less from an album with this title). On tracks like “Seductive Barry,” Pulp turns on the groove. On “Dishes,” Jarvis meditates on his role in a relationship that, even with his own limitations, he relishes.

All in all, this is definitely a must-buy. If you like your pop music intelligent and original, with a heavy dose of danceability, this is your album. This is Hardcore.

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