Jarvis Cocker’s loft is full of tat. So is his book. Good Pop, Bad Pop is a nice play on words and a memoir that plays with the function of its genre. To avoid recounting the past with idyllic, tinted nostalgia, the former Pulp frontman ascends into the attic and drags out moments from his life and discusses them throughout his autobiography. He paints a picture using moments leftover in the loft, and that is a far better way of exploring the past than relying on a jaded memory hoping to present the ideal version of the past. Cocker spoke about it during an interview at his recent art exhibition, the fear of filling in the blanks of the past because reflection inevitably covers over the truth.
With solo artists formerly members of bands or groups, especially those that had left their cultural footprint on a generation, the issue of living up to the experience of past works will always linger. Paul Weller had it and came into his own. Roger Daltry experienced it time and time again. Jarvis Cocker is still chasing that high, so much so that he retreated back to group work with the seemingly ego-fuelled project Jarv Is. His name under one group, or roof, as House Music All Night Long would clamour for. Despite that, Cocker’s debut attempt at music with the simply titled The Jarvis Cocker Record shows off his indie range without dabbling in the culture wars, the drink and drugs of a past period or anything out of the ordinary.
In 2012, during a lull in musical output, former Pulp frontman and solo artist Jarvis Cocker released lyric book Mother, Brother, Lover, a compendium of his varied works across four decades of songwriting. Leonard Cohen once said: “Art is just the ash left if your life is burning well,” and true to that, great lyricists are the ones that lead fascinating lives. When we listen to Bob Dylan, Patti Smith or even the work of Cocker both past and present, listeners are given an insight into the mind of an artist. But Cocker would disagree. His admittance to not wanting to be a songwriter, saying: “…you don’t particularly want to do the job, but because a song isn’t really a song until it’s got some lyrics, it’s down to you to write them” says it all. He believes “the words to a song are not important” but forgets to understand the impact he and other musicians have made on linguistics.
“Try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.” – Arthur Howitzer Jr.
Still cameras, black and white cinematography and a colourful explosion of artistic variety. Wes Anderson has a unique and refined style. His work will continue in this manner for the remainder of his career, and rightly so. His stunning and expressive features have waned in recent years though. It is the ineffective discovery of the commercial viability or the hope of such in the future. The French Dispatch raked in its cut of the budget and then some, but it is a rare sight to see an Anderson feature pulling in a profit. Perhaps it is the remarkable self-parody on display. The culmination of twenty years in the business of directing, eventually repetition looks commercial, and commerciality is on the agenda for Anderson.
Where it worked so well for the Pulp and Soulwax crossover, the latest efforts of turning Cocker’s lyrical waxings into clubhouse classics fails to spark much love for the remixification of modern sounds. Remix Ed would make a fine B-Side setlist, but in its current spectacle as a push forward of Hot Chip and Mister Deltoid workings, Remix Ed has been made for an uber-niche, hardcore group. Those that loved the work of Beyond the Pale, and further down from that, want to hear Alexis Taylor cover House Music All Night Long. It’s not a large audience, but it is an audience nonetheless.
Ethan Hawke opens with some insipid, uninspired notes of narration. “I am not going to tell the story the way it happened,” his soulless ideas spring from the screen as a camera pans around a boy in a shallow sea. Where Great Expectations and Alfonso Cuarón fail is in the modernisation of the Charles Dickens classic. But modernity is not something to cower away from. Where Great Expectations offers a new era and generation of interest for the text, it fails to capture what few notes made it settle so well. It is nowhere close to the David Lean feature before it, and Cuarón must, surely, know that.
Sustainable raves are the next generation. With Coldplay and a few venues in Glasgow announcing a way to power their gigs with the movement of a crowd, it is the next step of innovation audiences will be clamouring for. Artists too. Let’s Stick Around from Riton, Gucci Soundsystem and a feature credit for Jarvis Cocker sees an ensemble come together and ask an audience to do just that, stick around. They give good reason to do so with this track, an environmentally aware piece that blurs the best of rave culture with the lyrics of the Britpop icon. A pairing of Cocker’s comfortably sex-induced lyrics and the up-and-coming stature of Gucci Soundsystem may prove odd until listeners dig deeper into the Domestic Disco series Cocker had toyed with through lockdown.
Visual anthologies are hit or miss. There is, undoubtedly, going to be a segment that doesn’t work as well. It will feel bulky or slower. Rare it may be to find much balance; The French Dispatch at least tries to. Director Wes Anderson’s collection of fictional works of great journalism are the ensemble-heavy notes of love to the boundary-pushing journalists at the heart of great stories. Anderson’s sickly, Mr. Kipling French-Fancy variation of colour, technique and cinematography is abruptly halted. His stylistic dependency is changed. Most surprising of all for The French Dispatch is its reliance on drab tones. Black and white cinematography is the common treatment for these three stories. Reflect on the past, the simplicity of the times. That is the point, but in practice, it makes this latest feature from the distinct visual creator a bit run of the mill.
As nearly 1000 people scream, applaud and shout at Jarvis Cocker, the gangly 90s icon, there is a sense of nostalgic comfort. Not just for the audience, but for the former Pulp frontman and new band, Jarv Is. He is back where he belongs, wailing around the stage like a rebellious Catherine wheel, crooning to the tunes of his glory days and pushing forward with new, exciting sounds. Despite its size, Boiler Shop at Newcastle provides a homely atmosphere for the 58-year-old’s latest tour, especially to those lucky enough to scrape and slither their way to the front. We aren’t here for the misshapes, mistakes and misfits. Cocker knows it. He shuts up and plays those bittersweet rarities the audience love to hear from the singers next generation of sound.
A promising run of singles to promote his latest album, Jarvis Cocker enters Chanson’s D’Ennui with gusto and strength. It is beyond the pale for the former Britpop champion, whose Wes Anderson-produced album emanates all the finely-tuned strengths of his heyday. Softly spoken sultry tones and the French language combine to make this Cocker solo project a beautiful accompaniment to some less-than-inspired efforts elsewhere. Here, Cocker has the chance to experiment within the confines of his chosen field. French classics that were in no way needing an indie artist to adapt them. It is too late, Cocker aims for the heart with his ride through the French language and all the loopholes that come with it.