JARV IS...: Beyond the Pale (Rough Trade) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, May 24th, 2024  

Beyond the Pale

Rough Trade

Jul 16, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Not a live album but an “alive album” according to the listening notes that accompany its press release, Beyond the Pale is an enjoyable collection of live-recorded wonky pop songs.

Originally recorded as a means of allowing the band—Jarvis Cocker, Serafina Steer, Emma Smith, Andrew McKinney, Jason Buckle, and Adam Betts—to track the progress of their influx songs, this was never really meant to be an LP. As a result, Beyond the Pale is a lot more scattergun than Cocker’s work tends to be: its songs fluctuate wildly in tone, from the murky synth pop of “House Music All Night Long” to the pure drama of “Am I Missing Something?” The omnipresence of playfulness and sarcasm that has become synonymous with Cocker’s work isn’t really seen here, either, but it finds a way to be fun via huge tempo changes and textural experimentation rather than hushed wit.

Whilst pretty broad and perhaps somewhat jarring if you’re expecting vintage Cocker, the songs that make up the debut JARV IS… record are generally very good in their own right. There’s a real balance of imagination and structure across the record. The gleaming “Save the Whale”—with its unsettling hushed tones and hypnotic instrumentation—is a definite highlight.

It’s testament to Jarvis Cocker’s legacy that, in 2020, he’s bringing out a record that people will have to sleep on before forming an opinion. Whilst so many of his ’90s indie peers are churning out diluted versions of their greatest hits, scrambling around for one last big payday by playing songs that mean nothing to their present-day selves on tour and preaching to the choir, Cocker is fronting an experimental pop group and writing songs that even his most ardent loyalists will have to sit with. There may not be any witty couplets to live your life by on Beyond the Pale, but there is a lot to love. (www.jarviscocker.net)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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