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.
In the track’s YouTube description, Cocker says a few things about the Jarv Is… project:
MUST I EVOLVE?
Yes you must – you really must.
WHAT HAVE I MISSED?
JARV IS… a band featuring Jarvis Cocker, Serafina Steer, Emma Smith, Andrew McKinney, Jason Buckle & Adam Betts.
JARV IS… played their first show at the Sigur Ros “Norður og Niður” festival in Iceland at the very end of 2017.
JARV IS… then played a sell-out tour of caverns & tiny venues in the UK in Spring 2018. On Saturday 7th April they played a concert in Peak Cavern, Derbyshire & most of the music on this single was recorded that night.
JARV IS.. went to the USA for an appearance at the Desert Daze festival last October 12th, preceded by a short run of West-Coast dates. The festival site was evacuated shortly after their set due to a massive electrical storm.
JARV IS… play All Points East on May 25th & then head to the Primavera Festival. On June 4th they are playing in a cave in Ibiza (can you detect a pattern emerging here?).
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?
This single will only be available to buy at live shows. JARV IS… primarily a live experience.
Life is primarily a live experience.
WHAT IS THE SONG ABOUT?
That would be telling – but here are the lyrics
You can find out more here: https://www.jarviscocker.net/
JARV IS… come evolve with us
“Must I Evolve?” is out now on the streaming services.