Saturday, April 6, 2024

Daily Jam - This Is Hardcore

The party is over.

When I was a freshman in college way back in the long, long ago, Pulp released their penultimate album, the amazing and forever listenable This Is Hardcore. Simultaneously a summation of the Britpop boom of the mid/late 90's and a signifier of its coming death knell, the record perfectly captured a moment of music pop culture on tape, and then transcended it. Front man Jarvis Cocker was only 33 years old when the album came out in 1998, but he sounds like someone who has lived a lifetime of rock star decadence and regrets it all. I remember hearing this album for the first time at 19, and thinking that it sounded like the end of everything. It was like the band knew something that the rest of us didn't. Like they would still party with us, but they knew we'd all wake up cold, naked, sick, and alone in the morning. It's beautiful and devastating. And nowhere is that more evident than in the dramatic, orchestral title track.

The drums come in slowly and steadily, followed by the swinging, cinematic horns, a jazzy piano line playing slinkily on top of it all, the song sounds like entering some grand old Hollywood set, flashes of glitz and glamour, sparkles and beauty. Jarvis then comes in, his voice like that of an old, embittered crooner, gradually stripping away the shine and exposing the dark and seedy underbelly for all to see. Grime covers everything. "This Is Hardcore" is the sound of the party ending, the soundtrack to the morning after. It's the dull, thudding headache and cold sweat of the hangover, the gritted teeth and achy jaw as the cocaine wears off.

Bleakness and regret never sounded so wonderful.

Listen below, our Daily Jam.

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