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Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications Review

Considerable troubles continued for Jarvis Cocker following his post-Pulp releases. Their time in the charts was brief, less successful than the powerhouse group which offered up Different Class and This is Hardcore. Still, it is not commercial success which defines artists, thankfully not. Further Complications, for all its chart floundering and seemingly forgotten status, has seen a new light shone on it now that Jarv Is and company depend on the title track and beyond. It is not as though title track Further Complications, and the rest of the tracks which follow for that matter, cannot hold their own, they were just in that awkward place of wanting more of the same from Cocker. He’s all grown up now, as the likes of Leftovers and Angela showcase.  

Pairing up with Steve Albini gives Cocker a different pursuit of his well-weathered sound. Accompanying him are the late Steve Mackey and some integral supporting work from underrated baroque hero, Daniel Knox. Pairing those musical beasts with the wall of sound on display here, and the reaction is a chaotic mix. As rapid the eye of the storm may take hold, it does so with great aplomb and focus. Further Complications is a worthy title track, one of Cocker’s post-Pulp greats. It does, as Bad Cover Version did on We Love Life, wither in places. Impenetrable that wall of sound may be, the collusions of carrier bags and the shape of life hold within great rhythm and a funk bassline underneath it all holds firm. 

Simplicity takes hold of guitar-heavy double bill Angela and Pilchard, as simple as their titles would each indicate. Cooling off with Leftovers, a surprisingly pertinent and reflective track on age and the dinosaur Cocker sees himself as, still humming that same sexed-up tune with a different, seedy glow. It works well for its self-awareness, its move away from that style, pairs it up with simpler rhyming structures and last orders. These are Cocker’s last orders on being that sex symbol which defined much of his career, and his post-Further Complications work shows it. An immediate example is the follow-up, the coldness of I Never Said I Was Deep, the separation from wanting to wantless. Powerful examples are thick and fast, Cocker charts visits to his old stomping grounds on album closer You’re In My Eyes (Discosong) and expresses fear for the changes he finds there. 

A shaky start to the B-Side with Homewrecker and Fuckingsong prove difficult but Hold Still and the tremendous, heavy work from Mackey pulls it together. Between the messy saxophone explosion of the former and toothless bites of the latter, Hold Still is a hopeful and moving pillar between the pair. Cocker maintains some strong intentions with his solo career and has enjoyed steady progress since then. Neither ignoring his past nor hoping to recapture it, Further Complications proves the road ahead is laden with such titular worries, and that is the beauty of it. New troubles for Cocker to stomp around in, to move himself and his listeners to. He does so and does again with Beyond the Pale over a decade later. Further Complications is a meaty beast of an album, a bit of fat needing to be trimmed, but there it is, a prime cut of Cocker classics.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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