I was having a whale of a time until your uncle Psychosis arrived…

“this is the sound of someone losing the plot, making out that they’re okay when they’re not; you’re gonna like it, but not a lot, and the chorus goes like this…”


Pulp handled success badly, which is surprising since, before Jarvis Cocker’s late-90’s breakdown, they strived towards pop. After the persistent press coverage that arose from Different Class and several televised performance of Common People, Jarvis had had enough. And the drug addiction and end of a long-term relationship didn’t help. The album This Is Hardcore is a glorious masterpiece of melancholia, starting with “The Fear” (promising ‘the sound of loneliness turned up to 10’) and following with eleven more dark, sinister songs. Dark, sinister songs that you can sing along with. Dark, sinister songs with choruses and quotable lyrics.


“Dishes” is a frail self-analysis of unwanted limitations, self-loathing, existentialism, but also  features a comic line in which Jarvis beats Jonathan Coe in delivering: “I am not Jesus, but I have the same initials.” Underneath the sadness, there is subtle humour, the same force that can drive you through life. After all, the darkest song is amusingly titled “Seductive Barry”. One of the less likely singles, “Party Hard”, is anthemic without a proper chorus, but still infectious for the ear; the sound of someone reluctantly at a club or party, standing awkwardly to loud music, having a miserable time, but starting to enjoy the music. Never has depression made such easy listening.


Party Hard
The Fear (The Complete & Utter Breakdown Version)
(from This Is Hardcore)

4 Responses

  1. Matthew Fedak

    I am from sheffield and love pulp, take a trip there someday. “it may seem strange to talk of love and then lighthouses, but its not strange to me…”. Jarvis is king! Its like listening to teenage fanclub in scotland. I was like “what a load of rubbish”, then drove into glasgow and was like “…i get it, i get it…if i lived here i would make music this bad!”

  2. Kenicky Chen

    Ta, James. I’ll be writing about “We Love Life” at some point, which came a few years later. I’m assuming Jarvis felt better then.

  3. James

    This is the only Pulp album I own. I bought it used, when I was in eleventh grade, merely because I remembered seeing the video for “This is Hardcore” once upon a time and it had made an impression on me. Imagine, a time when music videos mattered.

    I do not listen to it very often, but when I do I listen to it almost exclusively.

    “The Fear” is, unfortunately, a spot on anthem for many periods of my life. I am glad I have it at hand when needed.

    “Dishes” and “A Little Soul” are two other favourites.

    I am not very articulate at the moment, so I will stop for the moment, but thank you for shining a light on one of my favourite albums.