When legendary producer Steve Albini was rumored to be at the helm of the newest Jarvis Cocker solo outing, Further Complications, many were chomping at the bit, awaiting the arrival of something entirely special. While the album does have a lot of those elements, it’s difficult to attribute these strictly to the presence of Albini’s magical touch. After all, who can really take control of an piece of work by a man like Jarvis.
Albini’s production influence is most notable in the first half of the album, especially the first four tracks. Opener, “Angela” hits harder than anything we’ve heard from Jarvis in all his previous work. It’s a fuzzed rocker of a tune, but one would be difficult to identify this as a track that exhibits Cocker at his best. These first four songs all fall to the exact same trap; they succeed in be decent rock tunes, but they fail in the way that they are not your atypical Jarvis piece. With that in mind, we can always be thankful that Jarvis has his usual literary wit in tow, which definitely helps along those early songs.
“Hold Still” serves as the turning point in this novel, as the tone of the album takes a drastic turn, and for the most part, this is for the best. The song features Jarvis at his best, with his voice taking on the raspy crooning whisper in your ear, begging you to come hither, which was always his best vocal trick in Pulp. Present hand-claps and backing vocals bring this song back to the orchestrated best moments that broke out on Jarvis.
Of course, there is always that whimsical song that hits home with all listeners when Jarvis is rocking the mic. “I Never Said I Was Deep” is this exact song; Jarvis struts his voice in the verses, with that cocky sexual undertone we all know and love. When the chorus comes in, with the character claiming that he isn’t as deep as his lover requests, you are drawn into the magic of the song. This is Jarvis at his absolute best.
Bookending the album is “You’re In My Eyes (Discosong),” with the title alluding to the more soulful quality of the instrumentation. Not only his this the longest song on the album, but it’s one where our old friend Jarvis truly returns. This song has all the swagger you expect from Mr. Cocker, but with the feel of your favorite lounge singer. It’s hard not to love a man with such talent. It exemplifies everything that has made Jarvis Cocker one of the more interesting, and vital, musicians of the last two decades. Further Complications is just another notch on his already quite respectable belt.
Download: Jarvis Cocker – I Never Said I Was Deep [MP3]