First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2000, Volume 7, #4
Written by Michael Karpinski
It is the rare modern pop act that can withstand 16 years of commercial obscurity and survive — let alone triumph. But that’s exactly what the Brit-based, glam-rock outfit Pulp has managed to do, releasing three of the ’90s most irresistibly subversive song cycles — 1994’s His 'N' Hers, 1998’s This is Hardcore, and the middle-sister pick-of-the-litter, 1995’s Different Class.
For better than two decades, whippet-thin singer/lyricist Jarvis Cocker has served as the band’s jigging jester bedrock. A dandy deviate with a lurid libido, he is the Benny Hill of pop performers — the sort whose outlandish, unzipped-knickers shenanigans ultimately prove charmingly harmless. On Different Class, Cocker dips into his patented bag of thematic tricks — voyeurism, fetishism, illicit trysts — and, sporting a vocal delivery alternately deadpan and camp theatrical, essays a range of naughty narrators — whether they’re shouting from the mountains the importance of non-conformity (Mis-Shapes) or just sitting listlessly in the dark, emitting sordid smoke rings (the unsettlingly sinister I Spy and F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.). The gorgeous, irony-free Something Changed features a soaring synthesizer line; Disco 2000 appropriates its riff from the Laura Branigan "classic" Gloria; and the record’s sterling centerpiece — the relentlessly catchy Common People — makes delicious mincemeat of a shallow-souled West End girl slumming her way through an East End summer.
Yes, it may have taken Pulp 16 long, lean years to begin to hit it big — and, no, their sound may not be the most original under the sun (like the London Suede, they owe much to David Bowie) — but when the end result proves as refreshingly decadent as Different Class, the years can all the more easily be absolved for having been well worth the wait, and the artistic cribbing can much more accurately be classified as "inspired assimilation" rather than "petty theft." Party on, Mr. Cocker, and party hard. ˝
Different Class is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box