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This Is Hardcore

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Album Review

"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"). A few others, such as the scathing "I'm a Man" or "A Little Soul," have a similar vibe without being explicitly dark. Instead of delivering an entirely bleak album, Pulp raise the curtain somewhat on the last three songs, but the attempts at redemption — "Sylvia," "Glory Days," "The Day After the Revolution" — don't feel as natural as everything that precedes them. It's enough to keep the album from being a masterpiece, but it's hardly enough to prevent it from being an artistic triumph.

Customer Reviews

A much darker offering than “Different Class” ...

This album is genius – lyrics, vocals, music, a sheer treat for the ears & the mind. A much darker offering than “Different Class” but in my opinion (and I AM a true Pulp fan not a casual listener) their strongest album. Pay attention to the lyrics and you will understand, but please do not read the words whilst listening to the recordings.

It's hard to top Different Class

When you have delivered something as good as Different Class, attempting to do better is almost suicidal. Pulp here, have done good work, but not quite enough. This is Hardcore, The Fear, and Like a Friend are the best moments on the album while the rest of it is a little too ... ordinary. Nothing here to make you go: "Wooo! I'm moving to Sheffield U.K.!". Although I recommend these 2 songs: This is Hardcore and The Fear, consider buying Different Class, much better.

Biography

Formed: 1978 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Most bands hit the big time immediately and fade away, or they build a dedicated following and slowly climb their way to the top. Pulp didn't follow either route. For the first 12 years of their existence, Pulp languished in near total obscurity, releasing a handful of albums and singles in the '80s to barely any attention. At the turn of the decade, the group began to gain an audience, sparking a remarkable turn of events that made the band one of the most popular British groups of the '90s. By...
Full bio