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Album Review

More than any other band of the '90s, Pulp were quintessentially British — not the same thing as being quintessentially Britpop, mind you, which is an entirely different thing. Though it was frequently fey, at least when Blur were concerned, Britpop was for the lager-loving lads, a patriotic celebration of the country, particularly its pop culture heritage. Pulp shared many of those same roots as their peers, plus they were pop obsessives, capturing the intuitive, subliminal things that separated the dedicated from the poseurs. They were the misshapes, misfits — the art-loving geeks grown beautiful who had a brief moment in the sun before they returned to the outskirts of pop life. To some observers, that might have looked like they were dropping the ball, but turning to the murky darkness of This Is Hardcore after the shining Different Class was artier and more natural than Blur's similar turn with 13, and they made better singles when they returned to arty darkness, too, as Hits, a glorious recap of their stint at Island in the '90s, illustrates. Pulp, of course, had been around long before they moved to Island, but it wasn't until the early '90s that they truly came into their own, starting with Pulpintro EP and the sublime "Babies" single. From there, they produced four terrific albums, including one stone masterpiece (1995's Different Class which, years later, stands alongside Parklife as the greatest testament of Britpop), the near-perfect His 'n' Hers, the fascinating decadence of This Is Hardcore, and the gorgeous Scott Walker-produced We Love Life. Each album has a different character, a different feel, but throughout it all, Pulp turned out tremendous singles that functioned within the context of the album and as their own entity because they were vividly imagined and sharply written, which may be why they hold together so well as their own album. Apart from the image-defining "Mis-Shapes," there's nothing missing from Hits, and while these are songs identified with their time, they transcend it, with even the new contribution, "Last Day of the Miners' Strike," holding its own on a collection of singles as strong as anything in '90s pop music.

Customer Reviews


One of the lost gems. The trouble with this group is that they hit it 'big' after they had broken up, probably ending what is a phenominal songwriting team. Try listening to 'Razzmatazz' without feeling into the groove, or 'Something Changed' without getting boosebumps, or 'Disco 2000' without bouncing to the beat. Some of the songs linger near the end of the album which is why it didn't get the five-er. The up-tempo 'Lipgloss', the seductive 'This Is Hardcore', and the curious 'Underwear'... all great songs that few have heard of. Truly great songwriting.

Like visiting an old friend.

It amazes me how many people are only now just discovering britpop through gateway drugs like Gorillaz (As a previous reviewer proves, they seem to think the band only reached popularity after their breakup/hiatus) and Franz Ferdinand. Older fans of the band might miss some of their earlier, (even) quirkier work on this album, but the solid hits and favourites are all there, and even now, Disco 2000 is one of my favourite songs, ever.

Great place to start

As another reviewer pointed out, the other reviews here are very misguided. If you want to hear one of the wittiest, most original songwriters in all of pop music - Jarvis is your man. Pulp was never a band that pretended to be the greatest musicians, but very solid and always a perfect backdrop to JC's amazing lyrics. A few tracks at the end lag but there is no doubt that Pulp was an amazing singles band.


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...
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Hits, Pulp
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