Twenty-five years ago, little was known of Jarvis Cocker. In a low profile act from Sheffield, it took over ten years for Pulp to make their mark on the mainstream and - at a time when many artists suffer a dip in form - Cocker grew from strength to strength; a tabloid-friendly figure but also one who was appreciated by the fans of the indie underdog. Partly because he appeared to take little interest in cultivating a pop star image but mainly because his wry lyricism seemed to possess a reality too often missed by the rest of the Brit-pop parade. It's testament to the man's standing that he can make his solo debut using just his first name too.
There were times on Pulp's later albums, where both band and singer seemed to be verging on the downbeat; as if it were a reaction to the obviously commercial album 'A Different Class'. Well, 'The Jarvis Cocker Album' is a dividing line between these two career stages; for every easy-on-the-ear 'Heavy Weather', there's a noirish 'Disney Time'. Yet despite the mood shifts it works rather well; Cocker is in fine voice throughout as if he is invigorated after five years of straying from the limelight (the Relaxed Muscle offshoot was a respectable offering but clearly not aimed for mass appeal).
Amidst a brief lull in balladry at the centre of the record, Cocker revives for the stirring, punky 'Fat Children', 'Tonite' is enriched by a distinctive guitar backing from Richard Hawley (a man who has more than capably filled the gap for Sheffield troubadours in Cocker's absence), whilst 'Big Julie' is a characteristically astute and beautifuly performed ugly duckling tale. Typically, Cocker pulls off the ultimate coup of leaving a 25-minute gap at the end of the record but the wait or the (fast-forwarding) proves worthwhile as 'Running The World' is a far better anthem than the overly-familiar 'Common People'. So at a time when most artists disappear into an ever-decreasing void of irrelevance, Jarvis sounds fresher than ever.