Tuesday, November 25, 2008

There's No Emotion

Another miserable Freaks song, this one dedicated to pinpointing the exact moment that a particular relationship dies. Truth is, the melody to this one is actually quite lovely, and it sounds like at least a little time went into the arrangement. The failure of this song is all due to Jarvis’ mid-‘80s vocal deficiencies. His mannered croon cannot even begin to locate the delicate tenor of the song. Vocally, he’s totally upstaged by none other than Candida Doyle, who provides one of her rare, whispered harmony lines on the chorus, and she’s the one, more than any other player, grounding the song with a recognizable, relatable sentiment.

By the way, as you may notice on the upper right side, you can now sign up to this blog’s network on Facebook. If you’re willing and able, I highly encourage you to do so!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Like a Friend

One of the nice things about a blog – unlike a book or a thesis – is that it’s okay to change your mind and willingly contradict yourself. So, did I say “Disco 2000” was Pulp’s best chance for a U.S. hit? Eh, maybe I spoke too soon. “Like a Friend” is also pretty damn catchy, featuring one of the band’s most rousing performances. Plus, the song was attached to the 1998 film of Great Expectations – starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert DeNiro – which I recall getting a lot of publicity at the time, although I’m not sure how well it’s remembered now. The band made a video interspersed with clips from the film, but perhaps that doesn’t really matter in the long run.

The real strength of “Like a Friend” is its mix of catchy melodies – in the song’s languorous and anthemic sections – with Jarvis’ pithy metaphors on a timeless theme: the codependency of friendship. Although the song doesn’t really have a chorus, it builds to a real fist-pumping kind of coda, and Jarvis’ lyrics are witty and concise, covering a universal topic that probably doesn’t get as much play in modern pop music as it should.

In addition to appearing on a soundtrack and a b-side, “Like a Friend” also showed up as the last track on the U.S. version of This Is Hardcore, where I think it actually fits very well as a kind of encore track. Still, we’re going with the British track listings for this blog, so I’m not tagging it as a TIH track.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Everybody's Problem

This 1983 single came to pass after the band’s then-manager suggested Jarvis try writing something Wham-esque. The result makes you wonder if Jarvis had actually ever heard Wham. Aside from a vaguely faux-Motown rhythm, this is still a fairly weedy example of early-‘80s British indie, lacking the big, brash hooks that George Michael and Andrew Ridgely so reliably provided. And I’m pretty sure there aren’t any Wham songs with prominent trombone parts. The lyrics sketch out a breakdown in interpersonal communication with some measure of wit but no conciseness, no catchy pay-off line. Jarvis would eventually master such things, but not for some time.

Like this single’s infinitely superior b-side, “There Was,” “Everybody’s Problem” turned up on the 2000 soundtrack to Schooldisco, whatever that is.

So, you’re probably wondering what happened to this blog. It just went on hiatus, really. My official excuse involves a combination of work, the World Series (yay these guys!) and the U.S. Presidential Election (yay this guy!). But I think I also just needed a break. For the time being, I hope to post at least once a week. Hopefully in the new year, I’ll get back up to two or three times a week, and finish the blog out in style!