POP: Record of the week
Sunday 29 March 1998
Pulp have moved on in the past two and a half years, though. Self-doubt and self-loathing is more prevalent than self-confidence, and Jarvis Cocker no longer claims to have all the answers. While the messages of "Mis- Shapes" and "Common People" were as clear as a Cortina's windscreen, on This is Hardcore, his observations are ambiguous and unresolved. This is an adult album, and not just in the sense that the title suggests.
Another difference is that the trademark Pulp sound has swollen, and has taken on some of the sprawling, monumental character necessary to compete with the Verve and Radiohead (if OK Computer was a Dark Side of the Moon for the Nineties, then This is Hardcore, disturbingly enough, is this decade's The Wall). Songs are given room to grow and flow; the abrasive, Velvet Underground-style guitars are right up at the front of the mix; and the album's final chord lasts 10 minutes.
The other main difference between Pulp past and Pulp present is that these are the band's most beautiful, melodic songs by far. "This is Hardcore" was a perverse choice of single (and not just in the sense that the title suggests): it's the least commercial thing here. Instead, they could have gone for "Party Hard", the closest the band have ever got to headbanging rock'n'roll; or "I'm a Man", Pulp meets Blur; the tidal trip-hop of "Seductive Barry"; or the exquisitely fragile "A Little Soul" or "TV Movie". "Glory Days" is the closest thing to a "Common People", not least because it contains the album's classic Jarvis joke: "I used to do the I Ching / But then I had to feed the meter. / Now I can't see into the future / But at least I can use the heater." It's good to have them back. Nicholas Barber
Life & Style blogs
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Paris Fashion Week: Skirting the issue for the stylish boys' brigade
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
Miss Universe 2015: A beefeater, a yellow tree and an entire hockey game - the bizarre national costumes
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
- 1 Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...