“In music, there’s no bigger pressure than producing a quality album that is highly anticipated. The expectations seem to have gotten the better of Modest Mouse and former Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker. Jarvis, out April 3, is the first solo release from Cocker.””
In music, there’s no bigger pressure than producing a quality album that is highly anticipated.
The expectations seem to have gotten the better of Modest Mouse and former Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker.
Jarvis, out April 3, is the first solo release from Cocker. Pulp gained posthumous mainstream recognition in America for William Shatner’s cover of Common People, but while the band was together, several memorable discs were released.
This is Cocker’s first solo work since Pulp’s last album, 2002’s We Love Life, but it appears as though he hasn’t missed a beat.
Many of the tracks sound similar to Pulp’s both for their very similar strengths (heady, intellectual lyrics) and weaknesses (lyrics which are too heady and intellectual).
Unfortunately, several of the songs sound like Elvis Costello outtakes. But Cocker’s vocals don’t have the same snarky charm as Costello’s. Too often, Jarvis just ends up being plodding and drab.
Jarvis excels when Cocker turns up the poppy panache, which was always Pulp’s strong suit. Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time, the album’s jangle-filled second track, does enough musically to draw you in. The follower, Black Magic keeps you on board with a sample of Crimson and Clover. After that, the album is hit or miss with songs blasting the president, prime ministers and fat children.
Similarly, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse has the same hit or miss ideal. Outside of sharing a wordy title, We Were Dead… has little in common with the stellar Good News for People Who Love Bad News from 2004.
While the songs retain the similar Talking Heads style and flair of past Modest Mouse work, the hooks that made the band famous are lacking.
That’s especially surprising considering the band brought in guitarist Johnny Marr of the Smiths – one of the hookiest musicians ever.
Also, none of the songs on this album clearly shine like Float On did on their previous release.
Singer Isaac Brock tries to infuse life into the album with his short-tempered voice, but it just doesn’t work. And with 14 tracks, the album is simply too long. Quality tracks like Missed the Boat or Florida – both featuring backup vocals from the Shins’ James Mercer – just get lost at sea.
Lead single Dashboard seems like too much of a stab at another radio hit and comes across like a poor Franz Ferdinand dance along.
It’s unfortunate to hear derivative drivel on a Modest Mouse album considering the band’s past penchant for adventure.
In the end, that is the ultimate downfall for both Jarvis and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Both have flashes of past greatness but neither carry over past artistic risk-taking.
“” #1.1362199:998148021.jpg:Modest Mouse art.jpg:The new album from Modest Mouse, shown here in 2004, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, doesn’t take risk.:”