At home, they are Britpop founders and still stars, but on this side of the pond, Pulp are still best known for their stellar 1995 work, A Different Class. Island did release 1998's This Is Hardcore in the US, but to little fanfare and the band have not been heard from since. No tours, no albums, nothing. Until now. Last year's UK offering We Love Life has finally reached the shelves here and it's no surprise to find out '60s singer/songwriter Scott Waker produced the album. Far, far away from the sound of their "Disco 2000" days, We Love Life finds British icon Jarvis Cocker and crew in a much more mellow mood, and, strangely enough, writing often about nature. Sure, it's still sex and drugs and more sex out IN natural environs, but nature nonetheless. "The Birds in Your Garden," "Trees," and "Weeds" are all topics of discussion. On the music side, the standouts are "The Night That Minnie Timperley Died," Jarvis' storytelling taking center stage. The aforementioned "Trees" starts off like INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart" before dropping some of the best lyrics on the record "Trees, those useless trees, produced the air that I am breathing; Trees, those useless trees, they never said that you were leaving. "Wickerman" yet again pairs Jarvis' breathy narration with a sparse, yet memorable guitar line. My personal high point is the psychedelic freakout that closes "Sunrise," Pulp turning into Spiritualized meets the Smiths. Nice!
JEREMY P. GOLDSTEIN