Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
The latest arrogant britpop band creating a media buzz these days, Pulp deserves recognition for its hook-filled, melodramatic songcraft despite an annoying overreliance on a number of oh-so-English vocal and instrumental mannerisms. Led by singer/lyricist Jarvis Cocker, whose recent stage-jumping antics during a Michael Jackson performance at a Brit award show further enhanced the band’s profile and the singer’s ego, this six-piece augments Cocker’s theatrical, Bowiesque enunciation with a guitar-and-keyboard-propelled underpinning that is equal parts glam-rock power and grandiloquent new-romantic pomposity. Applying a heavily accented, nearly self-parodying, delivery, Cocker does a cocky art-school misfit take on his favorite themes of class struggle and sex, occasionally within the same song. The album’s first single, “Common People,” imbues his otherwise astringent tale of a slumming rich girl with the light refrain, “I want to sleep with common people like you.” Cocker’s lyrical wit and self-consciously naughty bravado are aided here by the composition’s structure, which builds up from simple ’80s-style new-wave synth-pop rhythms accompanied by drolly sung verses into a more passionately delivered guitar-and-organ-accompanied chorus. Though such instrumental and vocal stylistic transformations yield overt bombast on several cuts, when Cocker’s colorfully descriptive, sarcastic phrasing concerning an outdoor rave in “Sorted for E’s and Wizz” or an affair with an engaged woman in “Pencil Skirt” is matched with catchy pop riffs, it’s hard to dismiss this bunch—as much as one would like to. —Steve Kiviat