* * * *
He used to speak to the
as the lead singer of 90s Brit-pop band Pulp. But it's been some years since Jarvis Cocker surfaced on our radars. And he's no longer the intriguing indie idol he once was.
Instead, we're presented with a middle-aged oddball in the grips of a bitter divorce and suspected mid-life crisis. With track titles like
, Cocker doesn't really do subtle as he deals with his personal demons.
While a strong current of anger runs through the record, Cocker hasn't lost his love of the absurd, slipping in sharp one-liners and dreadful puns. In the slow and sultry
- one of the more melodic tracks on the clanging, noise-heavy record - he croons "I met her in the museum of paleontology. And I make no bones about it." Har-de-har.
On the slow and dreamy
I Never Said I was Deep
Cocker does his own take on the classic break-up song. He's unrepentant as he admits his failings, singing: "I'm not looking for a relationship; just a willing receptacle/I never said I was deep/ But I am profoundly shallow."
Produced by Steve Albini, the record draws on all manner of sounds - from jarring garage rock and blues jams to sax solos and sweeping harp movements - at times, drowning out Cocker's swaggering vocals.
But the best moments are the simplest, when the volume is turned down and Cocker rumbles his way through his signature lower register.
He may not be the man you remember, but it's a welcome return all the same.