Saturday, April 30, 2011

His 'n' Hers (1994)

This is not the place to start with Pulp—that remains, always, Different Class. But if you like that album enough you're bound to find some pleasures here too. It certainly wears well day over day. As the album that came immediately before Different Class, you can hear them feeling their way to a signature sound that combines a certain amount of keyboard-inflected rock 'n' roll elegance and poise with Jarvis Cocker's willfully loutish by way of geeky vocal performances, often living most effectively in the lower registers, and his lyrical preoccupations, which run to flavors of resentment. A winning formula, in other words, particularly when it hits its stride here on the various singles, "Lipgloss" and "Babies" and "Razzmatazz." "Babies" positions Cocker's ruminating vocals over simple, evocative guitar lines until suddenly it somehow becomes very moving. "Razzmatazz" just powers forward, in a lovely dancefloor kind of way, and is the one song here that I think would have fit well on Different Class. As you can probably tell from the general tenor of my comments, the album as a whole suffers for me in comparison to what followed. Casting around for something more to say about it, I found an Amazon reviewer offering this advice in 1999: "Fans who were exposed to Pulp through Different Class might need a little time to let this album fully sink in (it takes about 4 or 5 listenings). But there is no excuse for owning Different Class and not this." So there's that point of view. (I also like this point that he raises: "All the Pulp albums come with the liner note 'NB. Please do not read the lyrics whilst listening to the recording,' a plea you'll inevitably break when you go rushing for the lyric book half way through the first song.") Me, I'm not sure that even the four or five listenings called for get His 'n' Hers entirely over the hump, except to put its best songs in sharper relief (and, as ever, I'm vaguely suspicious of such advice in the first place), but I pass along nonetheless just because I suspect he is more dedicated to the band than I may ever be. I see that there's something about Pulp that I want very badly to like, and to like a lot. So that's me trying.

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