Pulp – His ‘N’ Hers Review

Released April 18th 1994.

It wouldn’t have been so ironic if it hadn’t been a struggle; unerringly left field, Pulp, or to that point awkwardly charismatic front man Jarvis Cocker’s succession of backing bands, had been left in splendid anonymity by the UK’s uncaring record buying public for over a decade. Caught in the scrum of desperate majors signing anybody patently “British” as the country’s sense of national self worth reasserted itself, they were almost a twelve year old overnight sensation by the time His ‘N’ Hers clipped suburban acidity looked up the nations’ skirt in mid-1994.

Cocker was a consummate anti-hero, part raconteur, part curtain twitcher, doused with the credibility of perpetual failure which any son of Albion will tell you defines our boundless sympathy for the underdog. Written from a tangentially slanted northern English perspective (Although the band had relocated to London from their native Sheffield two years before the album’s release) His ‘N’ Hers perceptively captured the cultural zeitgeist of the era on the opener Joyriders, a discordant post-punk racket which dealt with the car theft craze seen via the anthracite minds of bored and casually violent youth, garnished with the nail-on-the- head sobriquet “We don’t look for trouble, but if it comes we don’t run, looking out for trouble is what we call fun”.

Elsewhere the songs were suggestive and claustrophobically first person, (Pink Glove, She’s a Lady) told from the magnolia tinted perspective of an émigré gently admonishing a culture which had moved on – a ribald, seaside postcard attitude in salutation of a national psyche weighed down by generations of sexual repression. For an artist who’d walked pop’s roads less travelled, the production line of grimy silk purses was remarkable – Lipgloss and Babies were both single of the year contenders – whilst closer David’s Last Summer built over fuzzy,  in between days electricity to a claustrophobic spoken word conclusion. The missing ingredient for success which Cocker had searched for in the decade previous wasn’t his uber-louche take on post-modern morality however; instead it was keyboard player Candida Doyle’s canny gift in creating a succession of unashamedly cheesy working men’s club-esque counterpoints to his jack of all trades, partially whispered, partially spoken vocals, the same deft hookiness that underpinned their later commercial pinnacle, the paean to class tourism Common People.

Cherished now as well as admired. Pulp were as essential to the refurbishment of national musical self confidence as any other of Britpop’s gobbier protagonists, almost the Stones to all their Beatles, speaking from a world which was as idiosynctratic as it was charming. Predictably, the pop world spat them out after only a few years, but Cocker survives, the mental kid in the corner of the playground, grown upper, but not finished yet.

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