In February of 2012, Fire Records reissued the 1983-1992 output of Pulp, again. They included some bonus tracks. However, this is the only song (if not recording) to be added on that was previously unreleased. “Sink or Swim” is an outtake from It. Like the songs from that album, it’s dominated by soft crooning from Jarvis. Unlike those other songs, there’s a prominent synth part, making it something of a bridge between the sound of the band’s first Peel Session in 1981, and the sound of the band they would become in the ‘90s.
Although “Sink or Swim” is a pretty mellow affair, it shares key elements with more immediately gripping Pulp songs. In a 1994 interview, Jarvis summarized the song’s theme as “standing on the threshold of life.” Maybe in a quiet way, this is Jarvis’ vow to avoid an easy conventional life, diving instead into uncertainty for the sake of art, and his dreams. Like, say, “Countdown” or “Monday Morning,” it deals with the struggle and fear that comes with trying to live a worthwhile life.