Every self-respecting Britpop fan knows (and probably loves) the band Pulp. Jarvis Cocker and company have released some of the most important and revered songs of the genre. But how many have heard Pulp’s first studio album, It?
First released on a limited run in 1983, It (get it… “pulpit”)is very different from the Pulp we know and love today. It’s much more acoustic and straightforward, with no sign of the dance hall anthems the band would come to produce. It’s a little bit folksy and a little bit maudlin. While Jarvis still writes his cleverly poetic storytelling lyrics, his self-assured, sexualized vocals are missing. His voice is earnest, if a little shaky. Keep in mind, he was only about 20 years old and still discovering himself as a singer and lyricist.
The release sounds very little like a typical Britpop album, or even an early 80s album. It opens with the acoustic “My Lighthouse,” and sets the stage for a sentimental and pensive album. The next few tracks follow suit, until the somber “Blue Girls,” which includes haunting female backing vocals. One of the cuter tracks, “Love Love,” trumpets along in an almost cartoonish way, with Jarvis proclaiming, “I love love.” These songs aren’t bad, especially for a young band’s debut, but they aren’t of the caliber we’ve come to know and expect from Pulp. Putting their catalog on shuffle, these songs would sound slightly out of place next to “Babies” or “Disco 2000” or “This is Hardcore.” Do you need it for your collection? Several songs are catchy and might well get the occasional listen. But unless you’re a hardcore fan looking to complete your Pulp discography, you might want to save this one for Spotify.