The Red Alert
The Red Alert

Jarvis Cocker


(Rough Trade)

Record Review by Adam McKibbin


Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker achieved iconic status in the U.K. during the mid-'90s, thanks in equal part to his tunefully trenchant songs (blending glam-rock and Brit-pop) and his outsized, telegenic personality. Both talents are amply displayed on his solo debut, Jarvis. Like Elvis Costello—whose influence is hardly limited to the black-frame glasses they both wear—Cocker sounds primed to extend his relevance and vitality into middle age.


His fixations have changed somewhat since the Pulp days: Leonard Cohen-esque lyrical libido and come-hither whispers have largely been pushed aside for stronger doses of global unease and general malaise. That dark side is nothing new for Cocker though—they're such old friends that he greets it cheerfully, with hugely poppy sing-alongs like "Heavy Weather" ("Looks like we're in for stormy weather / Death and destruction coming through").


Cocker and ex-Pulp guitarist Richard Hawley sample the '60s smash "Crimson and Clover" for the lead hook and harmony on "Black Magic," and pull it off through sheer panache. Better yet is "I Will Kill Again," a heartfelt piano ballad in the vein of John Lennon's "Imagine" that starts with a Steinbeckian verse about raising rabbits on a farm, reminds listeners that Cocker is a convincing crooner, and then unravels to the helpless warning suggested by its title.



Jarvis Cocker - Further Complications

Jarvis Cocker - Interview


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