Mixtapes for Hookers

2001. It’s A Crime Against Nature, Song #7’s Been Waiting All Night
May 31, 2009, 8:18 pm
Filed under: design of a decade, music | Tags: ,

#7. Pulp, The Birds In Your Garden

This week, despite the fact that I am completely ass-broke, I bought Further Complications, the new Jarvis Cocker album.  I haven’t put it on yet, though; I’m waiting for the right moment.

As a teenager I thought Pulp were The Greatest Band To Have Ever Lived, from the very first time I heard “Common People” on the radio.  I was a complete Anglophile at the time, and also very horny and awkward and therefore able to relate to the dozen anthems–and they are anthems, every last one of them–on Different Class.  Then This Is Hardcore came out in 1998, and I liked that album just as much, maybe more, even if the songs were a little harder to warm up to.  (“A Little Soul” is one of their best, though, as are “Glory Days” and the very underrated album track “Sylvia.”)  

In December of 2001, when I made this list, We Love Life wasn’t even out in the US yet.  I got it on import from Canada.  The record was… okay.  The poppier numbers, like “Bob Lind” and “The Night Minnie Temperley Died”, stood out immediately, though there also seemed to be a lot of sluggish wankery in “I Love Life” and “Weeds” and “Sunrise”.  

“The Birds In Your Garden” is the most immediately catchy melody on the album, though really that’s not saying much.  The group seemed so determined to avoid rousing anthems that the whole album sounds like it was produced by a cranky kindergarten teacher, one who would shush the band and constantly tell them to slow down.  

Lyrically, it’s one of Jarvis Cocker’s creepier numbers, mainly because the guy in the song actually gets laid but it’s pretty unclear whether or not the girl had any choice in the matter.  Which is not to say that the song is advocating rape–it’s not–but its ambivalence makes it pretty unsettling.  “Come on and give it to her,” he says in the chorus.  “You know it’s now or never.”  Not the words of a particularly poetic guy, clearly, so it’s hard to know what to make of the second verse: “I came inside, climbed to your bedroom.  I kissed your eyes awake, and then I did what I knew was only natural.”  

The song isn’t about the girl, it’s about the guy’s own repressed fantasies, so I understand why we don’t find out her reaction. (I am a little puzzled about why he’d have to climb into the bedroom, since he was already in the house in the first verse.)   But the narrator’s choice of details to mention asks more questions than it answers.

Unfortunately, I don’t think time has been very kind to the We Love Life album.  Though I still like this song, it pales in comparison with a vast majority of their nineties work; actually, with the exception of Bad Cover Version, the whole album now sounds plodding and cheesy.

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