It’s tempting for most people to regard Pulp as being a quintessentially nineties act – this despite their long career in the wilderness throughout the eighties where they produced some perfectly good material (and some trash too, admittedly) and the We Love Life album which hit the top ten album charts in 2001, then belly-flopped straight out again.
The Bad Cover Version single from that album proved to be their swansong, and suitably feels like one of their finest moments. Feeling for all the world like a lost Walker Brothers tune falling into the laps of Cocker and company, it boldly chimes and crashes towards its lovelorn conclusion like a drunken man thrashing out his post-relationship woes whilst wobbling away from his seat at the bar. It’s a black and white, smoke-fogged, orchestral wonder of a single, stopping just short of being histrionic.
Despite its kitchen sink production leanings, Jarvis’ lyrical observations give the whole scene a popular culture-quoting, flock wallpaper backed feel: “Like Planet of the Apes on TV/Like an own brand box of cornflakes/he’s going to let you down my friend”. Fortunately, Pulp never really let us down, and this was a mighty way to exit the music industry. It also sounds like a lost Christmas number one from another, fairer parallel universe.
[Album: We Love Life]