"This is the sound of someone losing the plot/you're gonna like it, but not a lot." So says Jarvis Cocker on The Fear, the opening track on This Is Hardcore, the ambitious follow-up to Pulp's breakthrough Different Class, thereby providing his own review for the album.

 

Cocker doesn't quite lose the plot on This Is Hardcore, but the ominous, claustrophobic The Fear makes it clear that this is a different band, one that no longer has anthems like Common People in mind.

 

The shift in direction shouldn't come as a surprise -- Pulp was always an arty band -- but even the catchiest numbers are shrouded in darkness. This Is Hardcore is haunted by disappointments and fear -- by the realization that what you dreamed of may not be what you really wanted.

 

Nowhere is this better heard than on This Is Hardcore, where drum loops, lounge piano, cinematic strings, and a sharp lyric create a frightening monument to weary decadence. It's the centerpiece of the album, and the best moments follow its tone. Some, like The Fear, Seductive Barry, and Help the Aged, wear their fear on their sleeves, some cloak it in Bowie-esque dance grooves (Party Hard) or in hushed, resigned tones (Dishes).

Pulp - This Is Hardcore

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  • 1. The Fear
    2. Dishes
    3. Party Hard
    4. Help The Aged
    5. This Is Hardcore
    6. TV Movie
    7. A Little Soul
    8. I'm A Man
    9. Seductive Barry
    10. Sylvia
    11. Glory Days
    12. The Day After The Revolution
    13. Tomorrow Never Lies
    14. Laughing Boy
    15. The Professional
    16. This Is Hardcore (End Of The Line Remix)