On her third album, the former Nickelodeon star sheds the cute popstar image, adopting a message of empowerment that rings true
Relaxed Muscle : London Camden Barfly: Friday October 31
Skeleton-suited Darren Spooner (well, okay then Jarvis) casts his sordid Halloween spell
'Muscle Music' is as good as any introduction to the Muscle, a compressed history of glam rock picking up some violent lo-fi electro on the way, with Cocker/Spooner lurching round the stage with its grinning pumpkins and giant UV crucifixes hanging from the ceiling. The vibe is very 'that creepy circus from the League of Gentlemen'. After some entirely incomprehensible chatter through a voice transformer, we get 'Rod Of Iron' ("I rule my woman with a rod of iron"), probably not Germaine Greer's song of the year, but it gets the decked out crowd going quite, quite nuts, with the heaving queue outside on the stairs desperate to get into the packed room. Then, for 'Sexualized', the filthy Primal Scream stomper that never was, Jarvis pogos with the crowd, wowing 'em with his ever-reliable special needs dance moves.
When the end comes, Cocker reaches for his acoustic with a party-pooping caveat: "here's one more," he sighs "its a bit of downer". He's wrong, though: 'Mary' is a spiralling opus delicately nicking bits from The Kink's 'Lola' and his shimmering glory days with Pulp, marking him out as a modern-day King Midas; everything he touches turns to (slightly sleazy) gold. This is hardcore.
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Oscar Scheller’s been compared to Blur and Elastica, and that sounds about right
Medium-sized guests and the vibey sounds of tropical house combine on an album that's not quite euphoric