POP: Record of the week

Pulp: This is Hardcore (Island, CD/LP/tape). I must admit, I was worried. The follow-up to 1995's Different Class has been a long time coming, and in the meantime there have been whispers of writer's block - among other, more drastic problems - and two singles which weren't entirely encouraging: "Help the Aged" was too much like what we'd heard from the band already, and "This is Hardcore" was just the opposite, a creeping, desolate epic, not designed to get people singing along with the chorus. So it's an immense relief to report that, really, there was nothing to fear (although there is a track called "The Fear"). The thinking person's pop group are on cracking form, and you should put This is Hardcore on your 10 Best Albums of 1998 list now to save time later.

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

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
science
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before