Part of the 25 Albums project.
Picture the scene. Southern England, Autumn 1993. A second chance at higher education. High Wycombe, here we come. Well actually, Marlow here we are, and High Wycombe here we come by bus but you don’t drive and the last bus leaves at 10.30 so that’s a bit socially limiting.
Fast forward to January 1994. Semester in Flensburg, Germany. Bedford for the summer. Hung out a lot with schoolfriend Gavin. Britpop was coming. So when I returned to High Wycombe (actually living in the town this time), it was a nice surprise to find a cassette copy of His’n’Hers in the mail one day. Thanks Gav. It was new to me, but it entered heavy rotation, and became a favorite. End of. But not quite!
“We can’t help it, we’re so thick we can’t think”
Straight into the social commentary, eh Jarv? Good start. Starting with straight rock, then fading into a strangely whimsical look in the mind of a teenage car thief. Then atmospherics into…
“…your hair is a mess and your eyes are just holes in your face…”
Obvious single material about a woman’s increasingly desperate attempts to keep an unworthy man’s attention. This is a great song, and the production is typical of the album, with big reverb-y synths which complement the sound so much. I think that’s the key thing about this album – great songs with big atmospheric production, reflecting the glamorous inner life of someone stuck in a not-so-glamorous town or situation.
“Just another cup of tea please (one lump thanks)”
Sexy time! Hanging out with a girlfriend, just getting to spend time with her. Tantalizing stuff. More kitchen-sink imagery as well, with the Mothers finishing with lovers before calling the kids (as heard in the intro) in for tea. Again with the atmospherics as well, with the quiet processed piano, throbbing bass, and Jarvis giving a good mix of intoned poetry and ironically, Michael Jackson squeals.
Have You Seen Her Lately?
“He’s just a piece of luggage you should throw away.”
Similar sentiments to Lipgloss: He’s no good for you, love. The keyboard part soars and swoops, before the singalong chorus, leading out with the horn parts.
“I only went with her, ‘coz she looks like you.”
Classic Jarvis. Probably a true story about getting caught spying on someone’s sister after school. Big hit around my way. My ex used to live on Stanhope Road, but a different one. Very danceable and tuneful.
She’s a Lady
“Kissed her where she said it hurt, but I was always underneath”
When I was listening to this album a lot at college, I was playing the Lucasarts game Dark Forces on my Gateway DX266. There’s one level set in a remote canyon on an icy planet, and for some reason, the opening of this song always seemed to coincide with the start of this level.
The disco is strong with this one, and it sounds like I Will Survive.
“But we know better, don’t we, we know all about the mess”
Croony torch song about the end of an affair.
Do You Remember the First Time?
“…at least there’s someone there that you can turn to, and you’ll never have to face up to the night on your own…”
My favorite Pulp song – it brings tears to my eyes. Combination of sad lyrics about yearning and jealousy of someone else’s “straight” life, and excellent riffs and upbeat chorus. Plus of course the synths providing extra touches of emotion, for example during the quote above. Gets me every time.
“Yeah it’s hard to believe that you go for that stuff, all those baby-doll nighties, synthetic fluff…”
Another disco anthem to an ex who’s let herself go, trying to impress her new man. You get the feeling that most of these songs are about Jarvis telling his exes what he thinks of their new choices – if they’re autobiograhical. If they’re not, he’s got a real sense of seedy suburban day-and-nightlife.
Someone Like the Moon
“… it’s not right that someone so stupid can so easily screw up your life”
Not a big fan of this one. They really go overboard on the synths and balladeering. Plus, I will admit to often fast-forwarding to the next track.
David’s Last Summer
My second favorite Pulp song. So evocative, and with various styles and atmospheres through it’s seven minutes (although it sounds longer). We start with a happy summer’s day, with evocative observations of days in the park, and “walking to parties whilst it’s still light outside”. Then we’re off driving through the twisting country streets, before returning home for some “afternoon delight” in the evening sun. Then it’s off to the park again, to realise that this isn’t going to last forever.
Finally, as summer’s end approaches, the music gets more intense, as the lyrics cry out for it not to end. But it does, as does the album.
I didn’t like Different Class as much. I don’t think I ever owned it. I liked the singles, of course, but in a kind of happy acceptance rather than true ownership. Although Pulp had been around for years before this album, I guess it really was a case of liking them before they got really big. The combination of life situation, music and … (that word again) atmosphere really grabbed me, and hasn’t let go since.
“the whole sound of Summer, packing its bags and preparing to leave town…”