Thursday, July 5, 2007

Party Hard

“Party Hard” opens with a phalanx of overdriven guitars and a pounding, resolutely unsubtle rhythm section. As with the rest of This Is Hardcore, the production is state-of-the-art, nary a note without digital polish and finesse. It’s just this side of antiseptic – and that’s entirely the point. “Party Hard” is one the album’s portraits of a costly, finely wrought and seductive version of hell.

As you might have guessed from its title, the song describes the whirling adventures of Jarvis on the scene, a möbius strip of loud music, dancing, sex and drugs. But his voice – processed through vocoders and other synthesized effects – is pure disaffection, dripping with weary disdain. You can easily imagine George Sanders sardonically proclaiming the opening line: “I used to try very hard to make friends with everyone on the planet.” In his book Britpop! (titled The Last Party in the UK), John Harris notes that “Party Hard” bears a musical resemblance to David Bowie’s “Look Back in Anger.” True, but the been-there-shagged-that attitude brings to mind “Love is the Drug,” by Bowie’s contemporaries Roxy Music.

“Party Hard” is also one of the most prescient songs on the album, set in a land of sensory overload, conspicuous consumption and instant gratification, of moremoremore. Let’s just say the song isn’t exactly what you’d call dated.

Pulp: The Peel Sessions contains a relentless rendition of the song from a live show at the Birmingham Academy in October 2001. Here, Jarvis’ voice is processed until it sounds like he’s swallowed every microphone on the stage.

The video for the song – quite possibly the campiest the band ever made – can be viewed here. (Watch all the way through – the best jokes are in the last ten seconds.)


Martijn said...

I love this song, and to me the David Bowie comparison makes a lot of sense, though not "Look Back In Anger" in particular. It always reminds me more of something Bowie could've done on "Scary Monsters", though probably with more hysterics.

Now I'll make a note to learn more about George Sanders. He's one of my fave actors and in a strange way I'm impressed with him sticking to his promise of committing suicide at 65.

Mike said...

To my ears, "Look Back in Anger" has a similar chord progression to "Party Hard." And they both have weird-sounding double-tracked vocals. But there's also a Scary Monsters vibe going on here as well.

George Sanders indeed rocks. I think I got to thinking about him again when I recently watched The Picture of Dorian Grey. The man was pretty much put on this earth to speak Oscar Wilde dialogue.