Monday, January 30, 2012

Street Operator

Another also-ran from the demo sessions for This is Hardcore, “Street Operator” could’ve possibly been molded into something worthy of that album. With lyrics that satirize denizens of the drugged-out Britpop era, the song would’ve fit thematically. At the point of this recording, however, melodically “Street Operator” is a rather unmemorable ballad, and the band plays it listlessly. It’s no real loss.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is This House?

I normally don’t really talk about Pulp remixes here – for one, they’re not very well-regarded. Also, I really know just about nothing about dance music. But since this remix of “This House is Condemned” is given a different title, it seems worth treating as a separate entity. Helmed by Sheffield house-music DJs Parrot and Winston, “Is This House?” is also a centerpiece of a witty scene from the recent, Pulp-centric music documentary The Beat is the Law. Check out the clip here, with commentary from the two DJs, as well as Jarvis, Russell, Candida and Nick.

As for the track itself, it sounds pretty dated, but effectively spooky, especially the weird treatment on Russell’s voice, making it sound like a choppy, distant transmission. It reminds me of the late-‘90s glitch craze, which wound up influencing Radiohead’s Kid A pretty significantly.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mile End

Now, where was I…

Thanks to some encouragement from the fine folks at Bar Italia – plus today’s announcement of the first Pulp show on the U.S. East Coast since 1998 – I have decided to finally take this blog out of the mothballs and write about the 14 remaining released Pulp songs.

We’ll begin (again) with yet another contender for Most Well-Known Pulp Song in America. Thanks to its inclusion in the film Trainspotting (and its equally seminal soundtrack CD), “Mile End” was quite possibly many American fans’ real introduction to the band. The arch, art-glam melody and Jarvis’ quivering, sarcastic falsetto gave us our first indication that this band was very different from Oasis, Blur, etc.

“Mile End” was recorded during the Different Class sessions, and fits pretty handily into that album’s loose concept. In 1989, while studying film at St. Martin’s College, Jarvis lived in a squat in a decrepit high-rise apartment building in the Mile End section of London. He later called it “the worst nine months of my entire life.” And so, the lyrics detail a life surrounded by squalor, crime and despair with plenty of vivid detail. The jaunty music may sound merely ironic, but the way the two-note melody and Jarvis’ vocal fall on the words “Mile End” cements the helplessness, rage and sadness of the song.

The song is a sharp reminder: This is what it can be like to feel different, to strike out on your own and to reach a dead end. Sometimes, your talents and dreams are not rewarded. In fact, they can lead to a seemingly endless series of indignities.