Album Review: Jarvis Cocker – Likely Stories EP

By on Friday, 27th May 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Jennifer Williams

Jarvis Cocker Likely Stories EP coverI always thought Neil Gaiman’s short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties sounded like a song that Jarvis Cocker would write. Seriously, think about it. It just makes sense. Fitting it is, then, that this week sees the release of the UK SkyArts TV series Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories. The four, 30-minute mini-films are the work of Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, who gave us the cinematic gem that is 20,000 Days on Earth. Along for the ride, Cocker is along for the ride too, onboard to provide the musical accompaniment to Gaiman’s imagination made flesh. Let’s be honest: there are many people that could do the job, sure. But very few should, or could take on the task with elegance, sex appeal, and yes, the creep factor. In short, Jarvis is THE person for the job, and he delivers.

Included in the press release for the EP featuring the first substantial new music from Jarvis Cocker we learn a wee bit about the project from the man himself: “Four grubby tales set in all night cafes, low rent drinking dens and doctor’s surgeries. I didn’t have to leave my comfort zone for this assignment.” Gaiman is a writer with his own take on the human condition with a balance of cold realisation and yet maintaining elements of warmth, even if it gets a bit scary sometimes. What Gaiman achieves in his literary work, Cocker strives, succeeds, and often exceeds similar in his songwriting. The evocative ‘Likely Stories’ theme comes complete with warm female backing vocals, set against a musical backdrop that is uneasy and unhinged.

It also also does have a bit of Nick Cave vibe. (‘Red Right Hand’, anyone?) While both Cave and Cocker are master storytellers, their methods do vary a bit. Where Cave leans more towards the cerebral, the Cocker approach is all about the affective laced with the intellectual. We are talking about Jarvis Cocker though, so there is no shortage of sex appeal. Cave has his sexy moments too, but they are just that: moments. Jarvis’ vocals will pretty much make text from the mundane to the murderous into a more sensuous affair. On the track ‘Foraging’ on this EP, on this EP, for example, the lyrics are comprised solely of a list of edible fungi, and yet it sounds like a proper come on.

Sex and the creep factor is a winning combination for Cocker, and this really shows through on EP track ‘Looking for the Girl’. He sounds like that guy that recites the most amazing romantic poetry, poetry that he probably penned after killing off potential rivals. ‘Poor Babes in the Woods’, the track the closes the EP out, is not even 3 minutes long, but Cocker does not need extra time to flip the fear switch in this sinister lullabye.

Fans of old school Pulp – and by old school I am talking ‘Masters of the Universe’ type stuff here – you will find much to appreciate in this new release in this new release. The final result is a score that is equally beguiling as it is haunting,, making it the perfect sonic companion for Gaiman’s narratives. Here’s to hoping the show is as good as its soundtrack.

9/10

‘Likely Stories’, a new EP from Jarvis Cocker to accompany the release of the UK SkyArts TV series of the same name, is out today, this today, Friday, the 27th of May, on Rough Trade Records. A 7″ version of the EP is available now in the UK; the American release will will follows on the 3rd of June. Watch the trailer to the TV series below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtDJJD8eS7M[/youtube]

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