Thursday, May 21, 2009 | midnight
After spending two-plus decades fronting reigning Brit-poppers Pulp, debonair beanpole Jarvis Cocker emerged as a solo artist in 2006. Although his debut LP, Jarvis, was lyrically as jaded as it was reflective and biting (a classic Cocker trait, as heard on Pulp hits like “Common People”), the album was subdued and meandering—and musically a sharp turn from Pulp’s theatrical glam, disco-fied debauchery and orchestral-prog laments.
Thankfully, Cocker’s sophomore effort, the Steve Albini-produced Further Complications, balances reflection with tenacity. Only the low-lit bedroom-funk jam “You’re in My Eyes (Discosong)” and the apocalyptic, British Sea Power-like “Slush”—both of which stretch on entirely too long—drag down the disc. Complications focuses mainly on punchy homages to ’70s rock icons. “Caucasian Blues” is a crunchy garage-boogie that conjures Bowie and the New York Dolls as it skewers the problems of its protagonist, while “Fuckingsong” is a slithering, glittery rock song heavy on swagger and T. Rex references.
Better still is the hip-shaking ’60s garage-pop homage “Angela” and the Pixies-crashing-into-Roxy Music “Homewrecker!,” whose squawking sax perfectly fits the unhinged conflation. Still, Cocker’s larger-than-life personality seems strangely absent from Complications, which in the end makes the LP a pleasant, if not particularly enduring, listening experience