Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker does not seem to be in any hurry to return to the center of the conversation. Pulp were once one of the biggest bands in Britpop, and they reunited a few years ago, but they haven’t played any live shows since 2013. Two years ago, Cocker teamed up with the pianist Chilly Gonzales for the conceptual collaborative album Room 29, but Cocker hasn’t released any solo albums of his own since Further Complications a decade ago. Instead, he’s been popping up for art projects and one-offs: Singing a song with Arcade Fire, covering Nick Cave with Iggy Pop, singing the songs of fellow unlikely pop stars like the KLF and Scott Walker. Cocker has also been touring lately, playing new songs and referring to the project under the elliptical name Jarv Is… And today, we get a studio version of one of those songs. It’s a great one.
On his recent tours, including sets at festivals like Desert Daze, Cocker has been performing a wild psychedelic rocker called “Must I Evolve?” Today, he’s released “Must I Evolve?” as a single. It’s a grand, arch meditation on the way life has developed on earth: Cells dividing, fish crawling up on land, humanity discovering fire. It all leads up to Cocker breathing the words “Frankie Knuckles” with delicious gusto.
The song is built on a towering organ drone, and it’s full of frantic chanting and rumbling percussion. It’s an aesthetic left turn for Cocker — one of many over a long career — but it sounds absolutely natural coming from him. Check out out below; it’s awesome.