This is Pulp's equivalent to Blur's eponymous release, showing a darker and far less commercial side to their music. For the most part, the record is too inaccessible to be cherished, but their bravery is commendable, and songs like "Dishes" and (especially) the title track really grow on you.
Jarvis Cocker does exactly what Damon Albarn does on "Blur" and messes up the popular image of himself, perhaps deliberately to make himself less well-loved. He feels isolated and under threat by celebrity, society and "The Fear". He develops a (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) Jesus complex on the afore-mentioned "Dishes", comparing his initials and age to Christ's, whilst adding his usual healthy dose of bathos.
This record is worth buying for the title track alone. Encompassing everything from disco to Krautrock to Velvet Underground to Serge Gainsbourg, it is one of the group's very best, right up there with "Common People" and "Sorted for E's and Whizz", although you can be sure your parents won't like it.
Perhaps in general on this album, Cocker's wryness has faded somewhat and he is less ironic and post-modern and more philosophically naked and direct. That is no bad thing, as the group may have been in danger of turning into a novelty act.
With bands like Pulp, capable of embracing a pop sensibility AND really saying something, who needs vacant pop thrills?