Monday, September 15, 2008

Goodnight

More foreboding tidings from the ‘80s; as was their custom at this time, Pulp create a convincing sense of menace on this track. Celestial organ and dulcimer give rise to a steadily increasing intensity. Jarvis’ spoken verses convey the moment just before sleep, but something is not quite right. The sung chorus is less effective, thanks to his usual pitch problems of this era. Fortunately, in the song’s last few minutes, his voice fades in the mix, giving focus to the band’s vehemence.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Watching Nicky

Like “You’re Not Blind,” this demo appears to be another embryonic version of “Babies.” Nick Banks wrote the central guitar riff that these songs share, which explains the title at least superficially. Jarvis claimed the song concerned an ex-girlfriend, although certain details – giving up an artistic career to raise a child – resemble the biography of Jarvis’ own mother. So “Watching Nicky” also incorporates the scenario of “Little Girl (With Blue Eyes).” The song is certainly catchy – that guitar is quite alluring, after all – but it’s not quite the sum of its parts, and certainly lacks the unique kick of “Babies.” All in all, good thing they went back to the drawing board with this one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Disco 2000

If any Pulp single was ever to be a hit in the U.S., I guess this would have been it. After all, not only is “Disco 2000” loaded with monster hooks, but the most monstrous, most gigantic of those hooks is a nod to a very recognizable U.S. hit. The opening riff to “Disco 2000” blatantly references Laura Branigan’s 1982 hit “Gloria,” and Jarvis alludes to it as well with some of his phrasing choices. But of course it wasn’t really a hit in the U.S. Although the grunge era was waning by this point, perhaps we still weren’t quite ready to embrace a rock song that wittily recalled the early '80s without devolving into smug irony and distance.


Of course, the song is more than just its pop-culture reference. “Disco 2000” occurs in the middle of Different Class, in the section that addresses love and longing. Here, Jarvis approaches the subject from an almost guilelessly na├»ve perspective. The narrator on the song carries a torch for his very first crush from childhood, a girl named Deborah. Back then, he thought there was a chance, and now, crazily enough, he still thinks so, trying desperately to arrange for a rendezvous at some half-remembered spot he claims to have suggested way back when. The song conveys all this, plus some expertly sketched memories of adolescent hormonal craziness, with Pulp’s patented mix of big pop cheer and deep, neurotic sadness.


The video tells a completely different storyline. It also features the single mix of the song, which adds extra keyboards, backing vocals and other changes. It’s very catchy, but in some ways it’s not quite Pulp. As contrast, here's a live version performed on MTV.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nights of Suburbia

This song is hardly related at all to the groovily sinister “Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia).” “Nights of Suburbia” is another nervous Euro-goth exercise, with Jarvis moaning unpleasantly about something-or-other. He seems especially keen to let us know, time and again, that “the virgins became whores” on this song. The song came to light in a lo-fi live recording on a 1987 compilation tape, See You Later, Agitator! And now you can download it from PulpWiki.