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Post Info TOPIC: Anyone up late for first listen to album?


Legendary

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Anyone up late for first listen to album?
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Anyone listened to it (bonus cd) yet then? Is it worth hunting for a copy ?



-- Edited by andy on Monday 20th of July 2020 01:49:50 PM

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Common Person

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I want to get a physical copy but being down in Cape Town that looks out of reach for a while until the world calms down.

Anyway, the album's extraordinary. A perfect length, in my opinion - most albums go on too long these days. Okay, maybe releasing 3 tracks before the album wasn't ideal but the situation this year hasn't been ideal.

I still need to go through the lyrics properly. 'Sometimes I am Pharaoh' I understand as a sudden apprehension of the past (it's 'chaplain', not 'Chaplin, right?) while Swanky Modes is hearbreaking. The album seems to run through many of my preoccupations.

It's definitely Jarvis's best since the departure of Russell Senior. But the whole band is great; I love listening to the different parts.




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The Only Way is Down

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I think the lyrics to Sometimes I Am Pharoah (coupled with something I remember Jarvis saying) suggests the protagonist is one of those human statues you see in city centres (and especially on the South Bank!). Sometimes he's a Pharoah, sometimes he's Charlie Chaplin. But he's always watching.



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The Only Way is Down

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Glad to see a lot of the love for the album from fans/critics alike. For me, it falls a little short. I can understand why it was originally imagined as a live thing only. Some of the lengthy songs get swept away with energy when you see them in concert but on record, that age-old issue Jarvis often has with his songs - that they're too long, rears its head on at least half the tracks.

I think a lot of this comes from Jarvis' struggle with making music and finishing songs - it takes a long time for him for things to come together. The other thing is that consciously or not, it feels like he has this weight of "lyrical maestro/liberal figurehead" pressing down on him and every song has to have a BIG IDEA.

For me, Must I Evolve/Am I Missing Something/Children Of The Echo could all be pruned by at least a minute if not more. Either the verses are too long or there are too many of them or in the case of Missing...the pay-off climax goes on a bit too much. Although that is the one part of the album with Emma sawing away on violin which Russell would surely approve of, where I felt that this could have been made in a 1987 session as a sister song to Rattlesnake.

For me, HouseMusic was a joy from the moment I heard the intro in Chats Palace at its live debut a year ago. But I'd be happy for the song to end at the three and a half minute mark (repeating the fantastic "Lost in the land of the living room" intro) rather than more than two minutes of breaking down and building up the song's mantra. I get that he's evoking the house feeling but again, personally I find this works much better live. This timely song got a decent amount of airplay during lockdown spring on 6 Music and Radio 2 but was always faded-out long before the end. And the radio edit didn't seem to make much difference when it arrived!


...Echo has a great chorus and the arrangement is spot-on but the way Jarvis builds-up to it from the second verse "Are you the one? *electronic squelches* all repeated a few times...I dunno, it grates a bit and I find it a little on the naff side. The last line, again so clever that it has to be repeated three times "The echo fades to diminishing returns" is also a bit...on the nose/over-thought.

Save The Whale works best for me because it's got a stirring percussion and violin rhythm that doesn't get boring and the chorus works smoothly with the verses (maybe the key could have been raised a couple of notes - Jarvis' vocals are very deep on the "Move beyond the pale" refrain). And the "Crinkly world, smooth world" part is well-judged and has a novelty that is also enduring repeated plays for me. Four and a half minutes is enough for it to create a mood, convey a message and be memorable in doing so.

Similar in terms of length is Swanky Modes which was the song I was most looking forward to hearing because its quality was immediately apparent from hearing it live.

It's funny - listening to a Jarvis album for the first time after you've heard the live version dozens of times...you kind of feel like an anxious parent watching their kid in a sports competition, hoping that he'll remember all the parts that you've practiced at home together. And I got that same sinking feeling from the first play of Swanky Modes to when I heard I Never Said I Was Deep on record after being blown away by it live. His voice is TOO QUIET. It comes across as a guide vocal to me. I guess the aim is for it to be intimate, possibly even tragic/a little pathetic given the narrative of the song. But even letting that slide, at the brilliant lyrical climax, he ducks out of reaching for the word "ringtone", exclaiming it instead like he has a habit of doing with certain words when he's out of breath/range since the Pulp reunion. And then in the next line, he doesn't even try to hit the high note for the "masterplan".


Arrangement-wise, I think the song needs something else in the mix apart from the languid piano and quiet violin during the first two and a half minutes to do justice to the great story and classic wordplay. From the "Welcome to the peppermint jungle" part on, at least everything shifts in tone and a great song is almost captured really well.

I wasn't sure about the distortion effect on Jarvis' voice for Sometimes I Am Pharoh but it makes sense when you think these silent statues would suit having a disembodied voice if they could speak. Again, the pay-off for "I make you........jump" - the anticipation is funny the first time but comes across a little smug/annoying thereafter.

For me, an "adapted/redacted" version of most of these tracks plus one or two more stone-cold solid classics like Save The Whale/Swanky Modes or something else memorable and sub-four minutes like anything from Room 29/Hold Still/Disney Time from post-Pulp records would make this an essential Jarvis album for me. As it is, it just falls short of a full-blown triumph yet is still more than decent and I'm so glad he seems to be happy making music again.

 

The above paragraphs come across as harsh or as someone who's hard to please but like I said, this is a great selection of songs. I just think Jarvis would be better-served not producing his own albums and getting someone at the mixing desk to reign in his indulgences a little. A producer who will advise him to pare-down lyrical meandering or to introduce more musical/arrangement changes if a song is to be another six minute whopper.



-- Edited by Eamonn on Monday 27th of July 2020 03:50:18 PM

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Legendary

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I agree completely with that review Eamonn.

Jarvis first record had stutton and mackey behind it, 2nd had Albini (though « deep » is amazing to me on the record) Room 29 had Gonzalez (sort of), but this one kinda feels weird. Not that its badly recorded, but it could have been way better, shorter (or longer with more songs)

Its Jarvis being the pilot but i guess he needs the ground control not to get lost. Feels like his band is more a backing band than a group with voices to be heard. Im satine that because each song sound like a version of Jarvis from the past, like a best of but with new songs.

That said, its still a very good record for a 55+ year old musician.



-- Edited by andy on Monday 27th of July 2020 07:22:15 PM

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Deep Fried

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I think it's easily better than Further Complications but not as good as Jarvis. Sure, i'd love more songs but all 7 on here are primo. It helps that I only knew the 2 physical singles when I got it. I tried listening to the live bootlegs but the sound wasn't good enough and I lost patience. For the best.

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That's an interesting review, Eamonn and one which I have to say is quite different to my own opinion. Admitably, I am blind to being able to criticise any proper releases Jarvis and co make simply down the the joy they have brought me previously. The announcement of the reunion, the JARV IS... cave gigs - there has been very little that has made me more excited in my adult life baring a few football games and I suppose I better say the birth of my child - which probably points at what a sad life I lead.

However, on listening I was struck, for a 'live' album, how different the songs sounded to how they did live. Especially as some of them were recorded at the gig I was at.

I can't say that the song lengths bother me - baring House Music which I do agree with you on - the others - particularly Must I Evolve - I think all work brilliantly. I know nothing about music - and you come across at least on being knowledgable on the technical aspects of it - but Must I Evolve and Pharaoh are amongst my very favourite non-Pulp stuff Jarvis has done. The whole album does have a theme with a number of songs having a false ending - Pharaoh, Am I Missing Something...feels like theres more but I can't think now. But isn't that a Pulp thing anyway? Mile End, Monday Morning (live)....I'm sure theres more.

I remember going to the gig in Birmingham before the Further Complications album was released - and like you - loving the version of I Never Said I Was Deep - and also remembering you disappointment on here with the finished version. That's when I heard Swanky Modes, knowing how much you loved the live version I was thinking of you because I was worried you'd be disappointed again - and a new Jarvis album is such a rare thing I want everyone to bloody love it! The recorded version of Deep - to me - felt much slower - and if one thing lets down Beyond The Pale for me - it's that the whole album feels slower than the songs did live, and loses something because of it.

As for producing - I see your point - but he's old enough and successful enough now to do what he wants, and how he wants. Albini may have produced the last album but apparently he doesn't really get involved in producing as such - more gives the studio space I believe. I'd rather hear an album that is 100% Jarvis, how he wanted it to be, than somebody elses version of a Jarvis album. I don't know if that makes sense.

It's not as if he is sticking donkey sound effects throughout songs like, say Neil Hannon. If ever a man needed a producer to say 'Are you sure about that....?', it's him.

I love the album. I love the mix of music, the backing vocals acting as a reply to Jarvis's vocals and that I find my four year old singing along to it when I have it on. And I hope that this is the start of a new creative period where we see some more in quick succession (I know, I'm being greedy). I guess the book release in a few months might give us an idea about that though.



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The Only Way is Down

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Bless you, re Swanky Modes ! Blimey, hope I don't come across as too grumpy! The album version is growing on me more. Still think it's a wonderful song regardless of arrangement.

I guess I need to follow Andy's lead and stay away from hearing live versions first. Road-testing songs seems to be part of Jarvis' modus operandi now so if live gigs ever come back, I might give his a steer (I think I'd have the discipline to avoid bootleg/youtube recordings but not the chance to see him live) !

And I'm very similar to you. Even on the football thing - my team narrowly avoided relegation and it will be a good memory. Maybe a bit sad but one that millions empathise with.

As a big fan of Pulp/Jarvis, I want everyone to love the record and any review I read that isn't less than great, I get annoyed. Which is ridiculous given my own criticism of it! But he's my favourite musician and I will support/defend him as much as possible. I finally collected my vinyl copy yesterday from Rough Trade Brick Lane and am looking forward to going through the artwork and spinning the album.

I see your point regarding the production element. He knows what he wants at this stage, he's even produced other people's records (ie Serafina) and you're right re Neil Hannon. He really does give his own songs extra-whimsy when it's already turned up to ten.



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The Only Way is Down

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Also, I might be being extra harsh/scrutinising the sound/track-times a bit more as I'm trying to make an album myself at the moment. Mostly with the "Don't overdo it" message in my head.

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Cocaine Socialist

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It is something of a grower, I think. I'm quite smitten with Am I Missing Something at the moment

'My Body May Die' wouldn't be too out of place on it, no? 'Got to Have Love' too. The second side has something of the atmospherics of This is Hardcore (the album, not the track) for me, though it's hard to put my finger on why. Seductive Barry. Maybe some of the bonus tracks on the deluxe.

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Legendary

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About the production debate, its not that Jarvis or the band ideas are bad, they are quite good, but they needed to be recorded better. Especially on Must i Evolve or Save the Whale. Those tracks suffer a bit of a lo fi recordings. Lo fi can be good, but this record is not a lo fi record.

Backing vocals also are a bit weird, dry and too high in the mix sometimes (the « do
Something... » female backing bit on Am i missing something scared me at first!)

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I've ordered an expensive copie on the RoughTrade shop to get the bonus CD. Received it today, off course no bonus CD inside. RoughTrade =robber=liar... Fuck off! Next time, I will use P2P.



-- Edited by pulped on Thursday 30th of July 2020 01:23:29 PM

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I'm struggling to really enjoy the lp..
I'm trying, really i am, i want to love it, but...
The weedy/girly vocal additions get on my tits, for sure they work well on must i evolve? But i find them unnecessary and encroaching on the other tracks.
The lp appears to have a bit of an identity crisis, an electronic 90's house music revival pastiche of 12" proportions or an indie classic...
I think he's attempted to marry a few styles but largely unsuccessfully..
That all being said, the live shows i witnessed were ace, of course they were, he's a great showman.
So, I've found myself listening and loving the recent Devils arse showcase more than the actual "studio" version..
However, Sometimes i am Pharoah remains the stand out for me, studio or live version, either, both magic...


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Legendary

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pulped wrote:

I've ordered an expensive copie on the RoughTrade shop to get the bonus CD. Received it today, off course no bonus CD inside. RoughTrade =robber=liar... Fuck off! Next time, I will use P2P.



-- Edited by pulped on Thursday 30th of July 2020 01:23:29 PM


 

Same here, what a joke. Is there a way to complain ? I'm gonna send a very rude email



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Legendary

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JASON wrote:

I'm struggling to really enjoy the lp..
I'm trying, really i am, i want to love it, but...
The weedy/girly vocal additions get on my tits, for sure they work well on must i evolve? But i find them unnecessary and encroaching on the other tracks.
The lp appears to have a bit of an identity crisis, an electronic 90's house music revival pastiche of 12" proportions or an indie classic...
I think he's attempted to marry a few styles but largely unsuccessfully..
That all being said, the live shows i witnessed were ace, of course they were, he's a great showman.
So, I've found myself listening and loving the recent Devils arse showcase more than the actual "studio" version..
However, Sometimes i am Pharoah remains the stand out for me, studio or live version, either, both magic...


I totally agree!   I have found the recording underwhelming in comparison to the live performances.  And Pharaoh is my favorite track. Yet to hear the Devil's Arse showcase. but on my to listen list.

I did finally buy the LP yesterday.  Cost £14.75 (with another £1 off next purchase) on Amazon.  Don't expect any bonus CDs...



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Deep Fried

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I'm quite shocked at some of the comments here! I assumed everyone would adore this album! Is it because I never saw Jarv Is... live?

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It simply wouldn't ring true for us all to be fawning over and gushing about this frankly underwhelming product.
Our Jarv surrounds himself with hipster/super cool artistes these days.
While trained, professionals have their place they lack imagination.
Constrained within their training, formulaic performances that lack spark or any surprises..
Whereas an amateur fills in their lack of ability and experience with a bag of imagination and outside of the predictable avenues of composition, which is far more interesting..
Don't get me wrong, i love our Jarv but there's no-one to reign in his indulgences and edit out the fluff..
It's not quite a middle class dinner party background muzak disaster but it does border on being a bit pedestrian and flat and dry...



-- Edited by JASON on Sunday 2nd of August 2020 01:40:12 AM

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Deep Fried

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Well, I couldn't be happier about it. I haven't felt like this about his work since 2006. Further Complications was a mild let down and Room 29 was downright boring. This is a huge return to form for me. It couldn't be further from "pedestrian and flat and dry" in my opinion, it stands amongst his best work.

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I'm all for differing opinions, but yikes. some of these are extremely bizarrely negative. 

For those of you that disliked it all around, did you watch the Centre of the Earth concert stream? If you did, did you walk away with the same opinion on a whole? Just curious. Some others who werent keen on the album were won over by that performance and preferred it to the album version. 



-- Edited by Nebula on Sunday 2nd of August 2020 11:34:52 AM

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Nebula wrote:

I'm all for differing opinions, but yikes. some of these are extremely bizarrely negative. 

 

Not intending to be negative, it's just that having seen Jarv Is live playing these songs they don't sound as good on record (yet).  Also with three singles already out there, it doesn't have that fresh new album feel.  I think it's good, but not as good as I expected.   That written, when I first heard His n Hers it was a bit jarring on first listen as I had heard the songs live a few times and again they weren't quite as expected. 

Despite lock down, July ended up being a very busy month so I haven't had a chance to have a proper second hearing, but now I have the vinyl, I will take some time out to listen.  



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Deep Fried

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It absolutely had the fresh album feel for me. I've been listening since the YouTube leak at the start of May so I only knew Evolve and House Music. I've yet to see Jarv Is... live, and anytime I tried listening to the bootlegs I gave up mid-song. This is the return of the Jarvis i've been waiting for since 2007.

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I've already clearly confessed my love for the Devils arse showcase earlier in this thread..
The same songs as the album of course....but different..
Don't be offended by differing opinions of our beloved Jarvis, roll with it, accept it..
In 6 months time i might declare it the best lp made ever, by anyone ever in the history of mankind and composition..
In the meantime, i don't think it is, ok?

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Deep Fried

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I don't think anyone is offended, unless i've misjudged tone.

I hope the LP grows on you. If not, it's not the end of the world.

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timahall wrote:

Well, I couldn't be happier about it. I haven't felt like this about his work since 2006. Further Complications was a mild let down and Room 29 was downright boring. This is a huge return to form for me. It couldn't be further from "pedestrian and flat and dry" in my opinion, it stands amongst his best work.





I agree with this.

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The Only Way is Down

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timahall wrote:

I don't think anyone is offended, unless i've misjudged tone.

I hope the LP grows on you. If not, it's not the end of the world.


 

...it's just some boys and some girls

Making fools of themselves.

Everybody singin'! We Can Da....



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