Jarvis Cocker's greatest challenge at the beginning of the new millennium is making people forget he was the poster child for Britpop at the end of the old one. Cocker's accomplishments with Pulp in the '90s thrust him uncomfortably into the limelight (not to mention tabloid copy), so he's spent the last seven years of his band's open-ended hiatus involved in a variety of fascinatingly diverse projects (fronting the Weird Sisters in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire film, collaborating with Marianne Faithfull and Nancy Sinatra, starting a new band called Relaxed Muscle) in an effort to distance himself from being pigeonholed.
Cocker's debut solo album, 2006's Jarvis, was largely seen as a return to Pulp's early pop form with more darkly complex and deeply felt lyrical concerns. With his latest solo effort, Further Complications, Cocker gets back to a big guitar sound and Britpop swagger without completely abandoning Jarvis' subtlety. The album's title track jumps out of the gate with tribal guitar fury and visceral simplicity, as well as Cocker's longstanding Bowie fascination. The understated and delicately dissonant "I Never Said I Was Deep" shows that Cocker is never far from the gifts that vaulted him to the peak of the heap a decade ago. Further Complications may not make fans swoon like Pulp's 1998 This Is Hardcore or even Jarvis, but Cocker seems infinitely more interested in conjuring up some musical mayhem here than in padding his already impressive catalog. — Brian Baker