Jarvis Cocker has duetted with Beth Ditto, wiggled his anus at Michael Jackson and dressed up as Rolf Harris on national TV – really, unless he joins Mongrel, he shouldn’t surprise us any more. Still, a few eyebrows went ceiling-ward when it was revealed that Jarv was hooking up with Steve Albini for his second solo album. What Albini brought to the table was as predictable – and welcome – as an unimaginative aunt arriving at your birthday bash with a cash-stuffed card: heavy-but-breathable fuzz-guitars and a granite-hard rock aesthetic, but with bluster bolted outside the studio door. And the result is an absolute pleasure.
And pleasure is a prominent topic here. Specifically, the kind of pleasure derived from humping like a big-balled tomcat. ‘Fuckingsong’ lays the stall out. A leery ode to unrequited lust reminiscent of Grinderman’s ‘No Pussy Blues’, it’s a tightly-wound Pixies-esque number where the lyrics (“I will never get to touch you, so I wrote this song instead”) are as enjoyably tense as its niggling bass riff. ‘Leftovers’p, boasting the guitar pling from Bowie’s ‘Sound And Vision’, is less bush-wobblingly creepy, but still holds more testosterone than the mop buckets after a Courteeners show. “I met her in the museum of palaeontology”, Jarvis says, reverting to a classic Pulp-y line in order to woo. He gets to the point quicker on ‘I Never Said I Was Deep’, explaining, “If a relationship is a two-way street/I have been screwing in the back while you drive”, then, “I’m not looking for a relationship, just a willing receptacle”. That whooshing was the sound of Lily Allen’s “wet patch” lyric being surpassed at the speed of a whipped cheetah.
It’s not all saucy fun – ‘Homewrecker’ bears garden-buried saxophone from The Stooges’ Steve MacKay that renders it more of a shame that it’s essentially a cover of the Batman theme. It’s a minor quibble: Jarvis has made an album that sees him exorcising the demonic bulge in his corduroys threatening to detonate in an explosion of torn flies – and it works so well. He might have spent 30 years teaching outsiders how to articulate themselves, but now he’s teaching them how to get sexual in the midst of the moshpit. It really is the most fun you can have with your clothes off.
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