Saturday, August 9, 2008


This is my favorite Pulp song, a perfect piece of pop that manages to be both dour and uplifting. Musically, it’s another great example of the band’s mid-‘90s aesthetic: an uncomplicated, simply played song, but with the execution and right production touches, it becomes the stuff of great drama. “Lipgloss” has all the bleak but sympathetic imagery of a Mike Leigh film, but one with a soundtrack by Roxy Music. Jarvis looks at a woman undone by a dissolved romance. His lyrics perfect capture the feelings of shame and self-loathing that gnaw at the woman. And he delivers this with a knowledge that indicates that he knows exactly how this feels all too well.

I’ve been thinking lately just how powerful the payoff line of the chorus is. “There’s something wrong/ You had it once, but now it’s gone.” On paper, it sounds matter-of-fact, brusque even. But it’s also the most universal line in the song; even if you’ve never suffered a broken heart in this precise way, something in your life has probably gone so wrong so fast you never had a chance to figure out what exactly happened. And that line, combined with the whirlwind thrill of the music, captures that exact feeling.

Lots of good YouTubes of the song: the video; an amazing TV performance; a great rendition with the band flanked by dancing audience members; and footage of Jarvis recording a synth overdub.

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