Wham Bam Thank You Glam

Pulp - This Is Hardcore
(Island Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

Glam rock, with it's perfectly applied make up, swishy lyrics, blazoned buzzsaw guitars and pre-punk attitude, seemed to die a definable death in the seventies when glam pioneers Brian Eno left Roxy Music, T. Rex's Marc Bolan died in an accident and David Bowie smothered his campy alter-ego Ziggy Stardust to explore soul, ambient and whatever other music he bumped into.
Now 25 years after the rise and fall of glam rock, the band Pulp is Britpop's torch carrier for this music that defined alienated youth in the early seventies, only this time around with a little less lip-liner.
Founded in 1978 by singer / songwriter Jarvis Cocker, Pulp has seen it's share of personnel changes, 24 different members throughout the last two decades to be exact. Their current lineup consists of keyboardist Candida Doyle, percussionist Nick Banks, bassist Steve Mackey and Mark Webber and Cocker on guitars.
On the band's ninth and latest release This is Hardcore they demonstrate an uncanny ability at constructing near-perfect pop songs over the broad narratives of depression, loneliness and twisted love within an even broader social commentary on the angst of England's lower middle-class.
Cocker resurrects the ghosts of glam past on the fierce "Party Hard" as he wantonly croons like Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry trying to secure a one night stand amidst the unemotional, vox-like Kraftwerk chants, "Baby, you're driving me crazy". Cocker's feyness unfurls in an unnerving drama on the opening track "The Fear" and on the swanky title track he sounds like a working stiff from the recent movie "Boogie Nights" as he sings "It's what men in stained raincoats pay for but in here it's pure". "TV Movie" deals with a overwhelming loneliness after being rejected, and has such a beautiful melodic progression that by the end of this short number you share Cocker's feeling of want.
The albums triumphs, however, are the swaggering, irresistible pop of "I'm A Man" and "Sylvia" with it's unshakable chorus and Webber's soaring, phoenix-from-the-flames guitar tones.
While not quite the shot of sunshine the rest of fellow Britpopper's are injecting into the music charts today, Pulp, with their sassy glam edge and satirical bite, proves on This Is Hardcore that depression and subversion never seemed quite so bright.

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