Room 29

Reviewed on Mon 29 May, 2017

Aficionados of the dyspeptic poet of Britpop will recognise (and no doubt relish) the sour-sweet signature of lyrics that drill into the domestic and the banal with often acidic, occasionally sentimental insight.

Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker’s debut on the venerable Yellow Label serves up a song-cycle voyeuristically detailing the imagined ‘life-story’ of Room 29 in Hollywood’s once notorious Chateau Marmont hotel. Anyone familiar with the laconic Sheffield icon will know what to expect. Aficionados of the dyspeptic poet of Britpop will recognise (and no doubt relish) the sour-sweet signature of lyrics that drill into the domestic and the banal with often acidic, occasionally sentimental insight. Ex-rapper Chilly Gonzales provides a cosseting bed of elegantly underplayed, laid-back lounge piano to support the drawling Sprechgesang of Cocker’s now mordant, now mocking vocals. Sugared by moments of evaporating lyricism and peppered by ambient sound effects, heightened strings courtesy of the Kaiser Quartett and the occasional glint of a synthesised phrase, it incrementally begins to cast a curiously involving spell despite its insinuating bathos. Heard on headphones, it becomes a considerably more immediate and intriguing experience.
–Michael Quinn