15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality Bites Back!
How do you follow the multi-platinum selling, perfect pop of Different Class? Well, you can wave bye bye to that gold disc and release your darkest collection of songs to date. That's exactly what Pulp did with This is Hardcore. It may have been considered a commercial "flop" by some insiders, but their loss was very much our gain. This is Hardcore is undoubtedly Pulp's...
Published on 9 April 2002 by orac101
3.0 out of 5 stars Pulp - Hardcore
Follow up to different class, pretty average I'm afraid. If it wasn't for the single 'Help the Aged' I wouldn't have bothered. Some good tracks though including 'The Fear' and 'a little soul' also drag this up to an otherwise very disappointing Pulp album.
Published 5 months ago by Wazzer
Most Helpful First | Newest First
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality Bites Back!,
How do you follow the multi-platinum selling, perfect pop of Different Class? Well, you can wave bye bye to that gold disc and release your darkest collection of songs to date. That's exactly what Pulp did with This is Hardcore. It may have been considered a commercial "flop" by some insiders, but their loss was very much our gain. This is Hardcore is undoubtedly Pulp's finest collection of songs. It's depressing, funny, sad, despondent and uncomfortable to listen to if you are approaching that difficult age of 33. This is a moody, almost sleazy album in places and it's all the better for it. Different Class had an instant appeal to it, but I quickly lost interest.Two years on, Hardcore is still essential listening. That's the biggest compliment you can give to any album, if you still play and treasure it months after the hype has faded. It took a few listens for me to fully appreciate this album, but it soons hit you. Practically every listener will identify with the opening track The Fear. A tale of missed opportunities and panic attacks when everything goes horribly wrong. It all rings so true, and Jarvis knows it. Helped of course by the fine melody, the album touches on many fears but you sort of laff because Jarvis delivers his lyrics like some stand-up comedian. Other highlights include Helped The Aged and the title track which is aided along the way by strings Diva Anne Dudley. Hypnotic and seductive and quite simply brilliant. The track Dishes will make you chuckle whilst TV Movie and A Little Soul will scare you slightly. I never thought that Pulp would release a finer album than His N Hers, but Hardcore is in a class of it's own
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cold, hard truth of adult life.,
'This Is Hardcore' is the morning after of the thirtysomething parties of the '90s. In a decade of 'This Life', Hornby, 'Sex & the City' & 'Bridget Jones' leaving people paranoid about the life they should be living, the album tells it how it really was during that period. Plus, is an accurate account of how life is for many, especially in the city. It really is the perfect album for those who've lived and are now paying for it. Many indie types (which I'm not I may add)don't like the lack of catchy tunes, and some tracks do muscially go on for too long (the end coda of the final track goes on for ages)yet the superb lyrics make it a must. Difficult at first, but delicious to finish with.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kitsch is out, but quality remains,
By A Customer
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?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulp's Berlin,
Uncomfortable is probably the best word to describe this album. It's not always an easy listen, the sonics of the production tend towards the treble on a great deal of the songs and gone is the shimmering pop sheen of A Different Class (which to be honest I think was overrated, His 'n' Hers being a "purer" version of the same ideas.) It's really worth getting hold of some of the singles from around this time as the b-sides such as The Professional, Champagne Socialism and Ladies Man are better than some of the songs on here and really spell out Jarvis' dissillusion and dissenchantment with the pop world he had spent so long trying to enter. There are times on this album when you feel Jarvis whispering in your ear and it so often sounds like a broken man crying for help but feeling strangled. It's not pleasant but it's definitely more soulful than the formulaic work they had started to produce in the wake of Britpop. Musically, despite what the other reviewers say, I think that Pulp changed completely with this album and never returned to anything approaching their previous sound. The songs are generally much slower, rockier in a more traditional sense, with Bruce Springsteen and Elvis being evoked throughout the album in the guitar and vocal work. It feels as though they were consciously trying to escape everything that they felt was expected of them, regardless of the results, which is why some songs don't really work. The following album saw them relax a bit more into the new territory they were charting for themselves but this definitely felt like we were losing them and that's why it's such a great album. It's a bit like The Stone Roses' Second Coming, ironically, as Pulp made a leap up the ladder on the back of The Roses disintegration. You won't listen to it everyday but it's worth a spin if you're in the right mood.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am not Jesus, though I have the same initials...,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After receiving this CD very quickly through the post, I couldn't wait to listen to it! So as soon as I opened it I put it in the CD player as quick as I could. Pulp's Jarvis Cocker gives good entrance. "I am not Jesus, 'though I have the same initials," goes the first line of "Dishes" on "This Is Hardcore". Or take the opening salvo in "TV Movie": "Without you my life has become a hangover without end/A movie made for TV: bad dialogue, bad acting, no interest."
Cocker's songs don't veer downhill after they begin, either. In the time since his Noel Coward-in-the-London-underground observations on Pulp's 1996 album "Different Class," Cocker has been working even harder at his craft. "This Is Hardcore" is a series of poignant or pungent vignettes about confused or lonely people. "Seductive Barry" fantasizes about making love to the object of his obsession; "A Little Soul" about a defeated husband who beats his wife and pleads with his son not to repeat dad's mistakes.
When Cocker writes what are presumably autobiographical lyrics, he's no less piercing or clever. The withering "Like a Friend" finds him both repulsed by and attracted to a fake friend: "You take up my time like some cheap magazine when I could've been learning something." Compared to the unimaginative language of so much pop and rock, Cocker's lyrics -- enriched by his dry, jaundiced-dandy voice -- are literary salons unto themselves.
"Different Class" was a debauched update of vintage new wave styles. "This Is Hardcore" is more expansive and more stylish than its predecessor, integrating sweeping string sections and over-the-top, big-rock production touches. "Help the Aged," Cocker's ode to lessons gleaned from the elderly, deftly leaps from an after-hours fragility to arena roar. In "Dishes," Cocker attempts to comfort his mate after a hard days' work. "I'd like to make this water wine, but it's impossible/I've got to get these dishes dry," he sings, voice on the verge of cracking, as the music surges into sublime cabaret-pop beauty.
Tucked away in the liner notes is an odd little statement: "Please do not read the lyrics whilst listening to the recordings." Sorry, Jarvis -- sometimes it can't be helped.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darker, more complex follow up to Different Class.,
"This is our 'Music from A Bachelor's Den' / the sound of loneliness turned up to ten / a horror soundtrack / from a stagnant water bed... / and it sounds just like this". The first line of the first track, The Fear, ably establishes the dark, decaying feeling of the morning after that Pulp we're surely feeling following the fallout of Britpop and the unparalleled success of their previous album Different Class following years of indie-obscurity. Whereas that record had revelled in giddy excess, chip-shop glamour and tales of boozed-up holidays and promises of meeting old loves in the new millennium, This Is Hardcore instead takes a long hard look in the mirror, gargles out the stench of the alchopops and brushes away the debris of another soulless night on the town to find the hollow, soulless feeling of middle-age slowly creeping in.
The songs on This Is Hardcore reflect a life at the crossroads, with a narrator no longer impressed by one-night stands, drug-fuelled odysseys, discothèques and night clubs, and instead, realising the emptiness and self-parody at the heart of shallow celebrity. Although it's safe to say that Cocker had always preferred to sing about the outcasts and losers at the heart of a sleazy society, there had always been an element of celebration or romanticism to undercut the images of peeling wallpaper, teenage bunk-ups or drugged-fuelled trysts. Here, his characters are presented in grainy close-up, with the stench of tobacco tainted family rooms, alcohol soaked clothes and personal defeat, all positively rife from one song to the next. From the opening track, which recalls the seedy voyeurism of I Spy, but takes things further into the haze of drug-induced paranoia (gelling with the art-work and reminding me of the character from Pink Floyd's The Wall... that jaded rock star hiding away behind the façade of his chic penthouse apartment, which has also become his tomb!!) with the production work of Chris Thomas further expanding the sonic landscape to take in ambient/electronic elements and the odd nod to trip-hop, whilst the band favour a more stripped down sound with acoustic guitars, live drums and a hint of orchestration.
The juxtaposition this creates is perfectly in tune with the themes behind the music, with the combination of arrangements and production creating a hollow vacuum of excess that the heart and soul (of both the music and the narrator) must cast off in order to further understand who they really are. Here, the lyrics throughout are more confessional in tone than the anthemic musings of His N' Hers and Different Class, with Cocker continuing The Fear with lyrics like "this is the sound of someone loosing the plot / making out that they're ok when they're not / you're gonn'a like this... / but not a lot / and the chorus goes like this", before the rest of the band join in and the song takes off into something that more closely resembles the classic Pulp sound. The next track, Dishes, is one of the more minimal offerings... beginning with a hint of keyboards and Cocker's dead-pan vocals intoning "I am not Jesus, though I have the same intials / I'm the man, who stays home and does the dishes...". The song later blooms into something more pop-like in feel, with the rest of the band eventually joining in to add drums and a keyboard counter-melody, creating a piece of music that's not a million miles away from the songs on Different Class.
Although the music here has that distinctive Pulp sound, the lyrics remain dark and despondent throughout... This isn't an album for those wanting to sing along with the common people, but rather, an album to cry yourself to sleep to when you realise she isn't coming home (and on top of that, she's left you with the kids!!). There's the typically mordant streak of humour featured throughout, but the songs are less boisterous. Even something like Party Hard, which has a sparkling keyboard melody care of Candida Doyle seems worn down and weary, with Cocker's not-quite-there-vocals exposing the tedium behind the whole Britpop scene ("and have you ever stopped to ask yourself / if you didn't want to party... / then why did you come here?"). Next is Help the Aged, a lush little song with gorgeous strings, languid percussion and Cocker's sleepy vocals all luring us into a (mostly) gentle song about the foibles of growing up, with Cocker's main concern being the loss of stamina and libido when everything starts going grey, falling out, or heading south for the winter.
True, the album isn't without it's flaws... like a lot of albums from the same period, it's probably too long, with the record as a whole pushing the 60 minute mark, whilst songs like Glory Days, Seductive Barry and Day After the Revolution would have probably made better B-sides. But that said, the rest of the album is fantastic stuff, with Pulp pushing their sound in such a way that it manages to reference both the early sound of It... and Freaks, as well as the peak His N' Hers/Different Class Britpop years, whilst simultaneously forging a new sound pitched somewhere in between. The use of sampling and lighter touches of trip-hop in the title track is fantastic, with the huge orchestral feel mixed with the drums and pianos, not to mention Cocker's sly lyrics ("this is hardcore... you make me hard"). There's also TV Movie, a largely acoustic song with clever lyrics that hold a double meaning ("without you my life has become / a hangover without end / a move... / made for TV /bad dialog / bad acting / no interest / too long with no story and no sex"), the gorgeous Little Soul, which is possibly the greatest song Cocker has ever written, and the joyous pop of Sylvia, which leads us towards the end on a bitter high ("I can't help you but I know things are gonna get better!").
This is Hardcore is perhaps a little rough around the edges... but, regardless, it still represents Pulp at the peak of their abilities. The combination of great pop melodies with darker lyrics that seem to point more towards Cocker's true feelings circa '98 works well, and shows Pulp to be probably the most vital band of the Britpop-era (...alongside Radiohead, The Divine Comedy and Luke Haines).
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pulp � This is Hardcore,
Quirky alt-pop veterans Pulp offer here something altogether darker than the indie-club anthems they're known best for. Rather than being similar to their probably most well known album, Different Class, this album is more like a development of their earlier works such as Freaks.
The lyrics are as sharp as ever, and sustain what could otherwise be quite a repetitive album. There is a distinctively downbeat tone to this album and it seems that Cocker is really playing to his strengths here by exploring darker and seedier subject matter. In particular, This is Hardcore is a sleazy, sexy masterpiece. Sure, this album is depressing in places, but it's all so well crafted and the lyrics are so incisive it's hard not to enjoy yourself.
How many good tracks? Eight, out of 12
Best track: The Fear is a frank and unnerving opening track, which sets the tone of the rest of the album.
Worst track: Party Hard does not benefit from either the great lyrics, or the great vocals that make Pulp songs so distinctive.
This album marks a real turning point for Pulp. They seem to have really developed, and though they still explore the usual Pulp issues of sex, social alienation and life's seedier side, there is a marked maturity of sound on this album.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the sound of someone losing the plot...,
By A Customer
With "Diffrent class" Pulp became one of the most popular bands in britain, their follow up was this album entitled "This is Hardcore" a fitting title for a rarther dark and uncompromising album. Fans of "Diffrent class" may even be a little suprised by this album but "Diffrent Class" was Jarvis Cocker exploring English life, this album is Jarvis Cocker exploring Jarvis Cocker and at time when he was heavily addicted to drugs he is'nt too pleased with what he finds.
In "The Fear" Cocker is partially mocking the listener while speaking of his own troubles, "Help the aged" starts as a plee for helping the elderly but becomes a song about fear of things to come and "This is harcore" is a dark and explicit exploration of teenage life.
It's not a happy album, by any standards but through the darkness comes a sound of hope that things are going to get better, its very diffrent to "Diffrent Class" its a diffrent view on things and while it's not as much of a classic album there's more emotion and it may well leave you thinking much more about life than "Diffrent Class" did and that makes it not only one of Pulps best albums but one of the greatest albums of human emotion ever made.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
By A Customer
Everybody seems to have said how it is a difficult and inaccessable album, but I don't see that at all. It is a brilliant pop album, just like Different Class before it. Songs like This Is Hardcore, TV Movie, I'm A Man and A Little Soul all show Pulp (and Cockers) ability for excellent pop music and insightful lyrics. The darkest song is Seductive Barry, but no more so than FEELINGCALLEDLOVE on Different Class. This is a truly brilliant album and it is only the subject matter of the songs which can be abrasive, but personally I love it. Their most recent, We Love Life, is far harder to get into despite its lyrical content, but if you've got Different Class you should buy this next.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fear of Hardcore,
It seems to me that many people hate to admit liking this album. Personally I love it. Really, bar the title track, the sexual content isn't anymore vivid than in Different Class. Apart from the sluggish Seductive Barry all the tracks are appealing. I first got into the band through the We Love Life single The Trees and thought it could get no better. How wrong I was. The opening track The Fear is an instant favourite with its sinister lyrics upheld by an atmospheric backing track. Hardcore, Help The Aged and The Day After The Revolution are also standout tracks. Deep, dark and uncommercial maybe but really we wouldn't want it any other way.
Most Helpful First | Newest First