Friday, March 29, 2024

Pulp is joyous, even in Hardcore

Jarvis Cocker was going through some shit when Pulp recorded 'This Is Hardcore'. He and the rest of his mates in the band had spent long years trying to be popstars with actual artistic depth, and then they suddenly were, and what then?

What then?

Once you've done a transcendent Glastonbury show, and wriggled your arse in the direction of Michael Jackson (which still might be the most effectively political thing Cocker has ever done), where do you go from there?

You go to This Is Hardcore, the best album of late Britpop, a solid chunk of bloody genius. And Jarvis and crew have discovered that it's grim when you find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The whole album is dripping with it - the forced nature of partying hard, the sordid shit of the lead song, the sheer what's-it-all-about of The Fear, the inevitability of getting old and dying, and there's nothing you can do about it. 

And that's how it's been remembered ever since - Common People was the moment when all the good drugs really kicked in, and This Is Hardcore is the hangover. Great fucking songs, but also a bit of a downer.

That's not how I remember it, not when the album lifts to new levels with Glory Days and The Day After The Revolution - songs that are still full on anxiety, uncertainty and the rage of those who have been lied to, but also finding something worthwhile in this strange and beautiful life. Now that we decided not to die after all, you can grove on the thrilling and propulsive music taking you through the day.

Going out on a high.

Well, as long as you don't have the extended edition, which ends with the portentous orchestral version of This Is Hardcore. Might as well pack it in, if that's how it goes.

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