Descending deeply into the mind of Cocker
Tom Dibb
18:22 16th July 2020

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Britpop legend and musical icon Jarvis Cocker is returning with his first release under new alias JARV IS... Beyond The Pale is an album that descends deeply into the mind of Cocker, whilst still pausing to dance once in a while.

He is a man who needs no introduction. So ingrained into the zeitgeist of British culture are his stories of class identity, riotous escapades and notoriously amusing misdemeanours that Cocker is truly in a Different Class. Nearly four decades into his career, the singer’s latest genre-bending offering is as innovative as it is refreshing.  It’s a piece packed full of house beats, sleek piano and wonderfully seedy subject matter.

Kicking off the album is ‘Save The Whale’. Slow tempo-ed and carried almost solely by Cocker’s vocals, give or take a few bass hooks, it creates an uncomfortable air of intimacy between the singer and the listener. Emphasised by the whisper-like quality of his voice, it penetrates through the speakers and into our consciousness. Following on from this is the lead single, ‘Must I Evolve?’. It features wonderful examples of his seemingly effortless ability to inject dry humour into anything. As exemplified with the line, “One dark night there was a big bang, or maybe a small bang, actually it was more of a pop.”

‘House Music All Night Long’ again showcases a humour and kitchen sink quality, as he triumphantly describes having, “One foot on the wheelie bin”. Melodically, the track boasts a slow and sleek synth lead in, creating air of almost effortless cool. This calmness does not last long as by the end it has grown into a frenzied house anthem. It wonderfully epitomises Cocker’s desire to remain fresh and distance himself from the indie rock he is synonymous for. 

The album takes a sharp turn away from its electro-rock bread and butter with ‘Swanky Modes’. It’s here that he is at his seedy best as he weaves a tale about inner-city life, with support coming from a gliding piano melody. It makes the track feel distinctly like something from a film noir. It is impossible to not be filled with a wonderful sense of discomfort whilst Cocker recounts the longing for, “the days of VHS and casual sex”. There is a sense of sadness and desperation that shines through the track’s melancholic lyrics. Closing with ‘Children of The Echo’, bass and synth make up the bulk of the melody, with the return of the electro sound of the album reinforcing Cocker’s innovative desires.

It’s clear to see throughout Beyond the Pale that Jarvis Cocker is determined to re-invent himself and his music. Not one to rehash old sounds, the musician has crafted a wonderfully groove-driven and dance-worthy album whilst still maintaining the warped songwriting style that he has become synonymous with. Cocker is embarking on a new path, whist still, fundamentally, remaining a Mis-Shape.

Beyond The Pale is released on 17 July 2020 via Rough Trade. 

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