Welcome to the wonderful world of Jarvis Cocker. With his eponymous debut album the former Pulp singer has opened a window onto his life and, perhaps unsurprisingly, a strange place it is indeed. Jarvis comes across as a meditation on a modern world as experienced by an artist analysing it from a distance. One who sees a planet of fat children and black magic. Lyrically dazzling, referencing everything from the Roman Empire to Indian takeaways, and with genuinely funny lines Jarvis would be a worthwhile buy for Cocker’s vocals alone.
Musically much closer to later Pulp albums such as This Is Hardcore than to their most famous LP Different Class, Cocker’s first solo album is incredibly varied in its sounds. Ranging from the joyful, Flaming Lips-esque “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time” to the solemn, introverted “Big Julie,” Jarvis contains a multitude of moods and styles; “Quantum Theory.” Like a weedier Elvis Costello Sheffield boy Jarvis Cocker wears his influences lightly.
When you add to all that to the outsider viewpoint that made Pulp the most interesting of the Britpop bands it adds up to one fantastic album. Often viciously satirical, especially on hidden track “Running the World,” and shot through with Cocker’s witty, if often downbeat, humour – Jarvis is an unusual but brilliant record.