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We Love Life

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Album Review

It was clear that This Is Hardcore was a difficult, turbulent experience for Pulp — it was such a troubled-sounding record that it was hard to tell where they would go next. Apparently that was as true for the band as it was for the listeners, since Pulp spent over three years preparing an album, cutting nearly a full record with longtime producer Chris Thomas before scrapping it all and entering the studio with cult hero (and Jarvis Cocker inspiration) Scott Walker. The pairing was intriguing but problematic, since Walker is not known as a producer and his recent recordings, such as Tilt and Pola X, were as inscrutable as Cocker was lucidly literate. Miraculously, the pairing resulted in the vibrant, reaffirming reinvention of We Love Life, an album that hints at music from Pulp's distant past (it's much closer to It than anything they've done since, though it has elements of the epics scattered through His 'n' Hers) while finding a new voice for the band and Jarvis as a lyricist. It's easy to see that this is a mature album, but that suggests a studied self-consciousness and safe, coffee-table artiness. This is maturation in a different sense — Cocker has lived through dark times, as was evident in This Is Hardcore, and still sees difficulty in the present and past (the haunting centerpiece of "Wickerman"), but here he embraces life, even seeing his place in the grand scheme of things. Previously, Pulp's sleek music had been as darkly romantic as a drunken late night in a metropolis, and Cocker's lyrics were wittily urbane, embracing and mocking the idiosyncrasies of contemporary life, but here the music is considerably more organic — Candida Doyle's synth, a former signature, can barely be heard — and Cocker's elaborately detailed lyrics are trim and focused, filled with nature imagery. This is hardly a pastoral album, though, even with the occasional string section and acoustic guitars, nor does this sound like Pulp's version of a Scott Walker album. Instead, this is an emotional and musical breakthrough, finding the band leaping beyond the claustrophobic Hardcore and consolidating their previous obsessions, creating a textured, reflective record that in its own measured way is as impassioned as Different Class — it's just that Jarvis is railing against the impulses within himself, and he winds up finding a way out. As such, We Love Life is warm and embracing, even when it delves into darkness, never nearly as despairing as Hardcore, and nearly as affirming as Different Class. And if that record was the mis-shaped misfit finally letting the world know that he was special, this is that same misfit turning inward, realizing that the world itself is special. Not the kind of thing that results in a massive hit, but it's tremendously rewarding all the same.

Customer Reviews

We Love Life

After This Is Hardcore, it was unclear whether Pulp would return to the anthems of Different Class or continue into more arty territory. Instead, with the help of Jarvis Cocker hero Scott Walker as producer, Pulp reinvented their sound into the album We Love Life. Far more organic sounding than any previous Pulp recording, besides perhaps It, We Love Life finds the band creating songs similar to past efforts but within an entirely different lyrical and musical context. Here, Jarvis Cocker's lyrics are, as just a brief glance of the track titles can show you, overflowing with images from nature: trees, weeds, suns, birds to name but a few. If Cocker was going through a bout of depression and paranoia on This Is Hardcore, some of these songs reflect how he has dealt with and continues these problems but now finds solace in the world too. The music reflects this just the same. Many songs are based around acoustic guitar phrases and string orchestration, yet noisy feedback and atmospheric effects often permeate the album, keeping the album from seeming lightweight or the band from sounding out-of-character. Even if it does not necessarily feel like a Pulp album at first listen, it is a fitting swan song for the group, consolidating their catalog's musical territory into a full-length record.

Was Afraid at First

I love Pulp and have so much respect for Jarvis Cocker and all the torments that he battles, that as a huge Pulp fan, it was hard for me to except their "exile" and come to terms with this being their last LP. I'm a grown man, and I cried for goodness sake! So I did what any mature man would do.....I just avoided this album for 4 years!!

Once I came to my senses and bought it, I was simply blown away (and angry at myself for waiting so long!)

Buckle up, this is a tremendous ride from start to finish with sounds that are trademark Pulp mixed with a very fresh, acoustic/organic and heavily sampled to perfection feel!

Highlights: Weeds II, The Night That Minnie Timperly Died, Trees, Bob Lind, Sunrise.

Good album to listen to from start to finish

Give this record a chance. Creepy fun with Birds In Your Garden and the songs Weeds, Weeds II, and Sunrise will surely please.


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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