POP: ALBUM REVIEWS

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Pulp: This Is Hardcore (Island, below) Jarvis Cocker stands high as one of the most acutely observational storytellers in British pop, but often the forays into the dark corners of his mind aren't pleasant ones - I doubt whether his obsession with porn is one all his female fans will share. Still, his wry way of shedding light on the grim minutiae of life makes him the new Morrissey, while ever-present strings provide Pulp songs with the grand-gesture climaxes that spell "hit status". HHH

Cappadona: The Pillage (Epic) The sixth solo album from a member of the venerated hip-hop troupe Wu Tang Clan isn't as substantial as the ones preceding it, despite the copious Wu stylistics. Cappadona borrows clips from Chinese kung fu flicks as Wu always did, but he lacks the eccentricity of Method Man, the lyrical clout of Rackwon and the cool concept plotting of Genius. All that's left is a lot of that ferocious barking about the woes of urban life that rappers tread through all too often. HH

Cecil: Subtitles (Parlophone) Times looked great for these earnest new souls of melodic rock, but Cecil's debut album is an underpowered affair. The vocals are too reedy to carry enough depth, and the music relies on too many familiar indie manoeuvres for more than the odd flicker of surprise. Hope they can be the great band they are live next time around. HH

Various Artists: Techno Animal vs Reality (City Slang) Eerie industrial metallists Techno Animal clunk and grind to menacing effect, then get the track remixed by all manner of knob-twiddling notables. Despite being aided and abetted by the likes of Alec Empire, Tortoise and Ui, this is an unremittingly bleak outing. Extreme it certainly is, tuneful it's not. HH(H)

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