Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Down by the River

Post-It, Pulp was not a harmony band. Most of the time, Jarvis just overdubbed himself umpteenth times, or they hired outside vocalists, such as the Swingle Singers. On their last few tours, the only other person with a vocal mic on stage was the touring, auxiliary guitarist, Richard Hawley. However, “Down by the River” is one of the three Pulp songs to feature harmonies from Candida Doyle, who accompanies Jarvis on the wordless chorus. (There are also two songs where she has a spoken-word part.)

The river in this song is a place of regret and perhaps sinister memories. It has the potential to be hackneyed, but Jarvis’ command over language is so strong by this point that the scenario comes alive. It also helps that the song is perhaps the epitome of the band’s Euro-folk phase, a delicate waltz with a sure and steady swell. I’d love to hear another band take a stab at this, performing it with an extra amount of restraint. Or maybe Pulp could one day revisit it. Hey, it could happen.

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