Album Review: Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications

by Marie Carney on May 24, 2009

Further Complications sounds more like a midlife crisis than a record.  There are a couple of great classic Jarvis songs, some really good lyrics, and some really awful hard rock music.  I was nervous to hear that Jarvis Cocker was working with producer Steve Albini and my nervousness was founded.  There is some Jarvis left in there somewhere, but on some songs the vocals are mixed so low you can barely make out the lyrics; and what is the point of that when you are listening to a record from one of the world’s greatest lyricists!?!

Great cover = mediocre content

Great cover = mediocre content

Further Complications indeed.

The album opens with the title track and its simplistic repetitive guitar riff that continues drilling into your brain for all 3:16.  If you thought this might be a warm up for something greater, you are in for a disappointment.  The first single “Angela” is up next, and is slightly more interesting, mostly because of a better guitar riff and backing vocals.

But then you get the real low point on the album, the fully instrumental “Pilchard.”  What is an instrumental song doing on a Jarvis Cocker record?  It’s as if he decided to run screaming from everything he is good at.  No one would call Jarvis Cocker a great songwriter, or even singer.  But no one speak/sings sexy songs like him!

Then, almost as if he can hear his fans screaming in pain he gives you the two best and most “Jarvis-y” songs on the record.  Two songs about sex, though from a different and, shall we say aged, point of view.  On “Leftovers” he proclaims:  “If you wish to study dinosaurs, I know a specimen who’s interest is undoubted.”  Then “I Never Said I Was Deep” is full of self depricating humor and the wonderful turns of phrase that you expect from a Jarvis Cocker record.  The chorus is especially charming:

“I never said I was deep, but I am profoundly shallow
My lack of knowledge is vast, and my horizons are narrow
I never said I was big
I never said that I was clever
And if you’re waiting to find what’s going on in my mind
You could be waiting forever.  Forever and ever.”

Then we go back to more four more boring, headache indusing hard rock songs, a dull piano based song, and of all things, a disco song.  Sure, there’s some more good lyrics in there somewhere, but it just doesn’t quite work.

Even though I am disappointed in the album, as a whole it is not without it’s charms.  I even found myself singing “Further Complications” all day yesterday (stupid catchy chorus!).  But on the album I think you get a glimpse of a man who is tired of his shtick, and desperate to break out.  A man who feels old and out of place and just wants out of the cage his life led him to.  It’s just too bad for him that I want to shove him back in the box and sit on it.

Song to Download:  “I Never Said I Was Deep”

Song to Make you Scream WTF!?!:  “Pilchard”

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Vi July 8, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I still haven’t gotten through the whole album and yet seeing him live in a few weeks. British sex-god live is still British sex-god live.

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Marie Carney July 8, 2009 at 9:46 pm

It’ll still be good live ’cause it’s always good to watch Jarvis strut about!

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Tony July 30, 2009 at 8:55 am

Perfect album review. Exactly my thoughts.

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