Monday, December 22, 2008

The Babysitter

A little over a year after the Inside Susan trilogy, Jarvis and the band decided to add a fourth chapter to the character’s story. Lyrically, “The Babysitter” is the most minimalistic of the Susan songs, as Jarvis briefly and subtly describes how she finds herself rejected by her husband in favor of the family babysitter, who resembles Susan in her younger days. Jarvis ably sketches this sordid yet heartbreaking scenario with economical wording. Additionally, the track contains some thrillingly chaotic instrumental sections, dominated by crazed drums and Stylophone.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Inspired by a Serge Gainsbourg song of the same name, this mid-‘80s b-side/compilation track possibly points towards the Euro-folk-leaning tracks on Separations. “Manon” contains a careful, eerie arrangement nearly spoiled, once again, by Jarvis’ vocals. In later interviews, he’d rue his decision to sing in French in the song’s finale. Additionally, he admitted that he wrote the morbid lyrics under the erroneous assumption that “Manon” was a man’s name.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

David's Last Summer

His ‘n’ Hers closes with this seven-minute song which, despite its epic nature, remains of a piece with the rest of the album, giving the quotidian an eerie, almost poetic quality. Jarvis recites most of the lyrics, describing the activities of a young couple in first person, so we can assume that he is “David.” The words get a little lost in Ed Buller’s echoing, cavernous production, but they may be some of the most unabashedly romantic lines you’ll find in Pulp’s canon. It is only at the end, when Jarvis fearfully notes the looming end of summer -- and with it the end of this relationship -- that the true weight of this experience becomes apparent. The rest of Pulp provide an expertly dramatic musical backing, culminating in a frenzied climax that’s driven by some intense fire extinguisher-playing from Nick Banks.

“David’s Last Summer” is equally resonant in almost metaphorical sense. Near the end, Jarvis describes “summer packing its bags and preparing to leave town.” And in many ways, Pulp would do the same, adjusting their focus from the provincial to the metropolitan on the bulk of their next album, Different Class.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


“Yesterday” comes from the same aborted We Love Life sessions as “Forever in My Dreams,” but it’s a deeply inferior song. While the latter is one of Pulp’s most sublime and deeply moving hidden tracks, “Yesterday” is wan, rote and uninspired, from the bland guitar riff that opens the song through Jarvis’ distracted delivery of one of his few bland lyrics. It’s not the most original idea for a song – a pep talk urging someone to let go of the past. Jarvis has generally had little trouble revitalizing once-hackneyed song ideas with wit and imagination. Not this time. At least the band knew well enough to give the song a fairly wide berth, on the b-side to “Bad Cover Version,” along with “Forever in My Dreams,” but they could have gone further and left the song in the vaults. There are lost songs from this era, such as “The Quiet Revolution” and “Cuckoo Song,” that also leave “Yesterday” in the dust.