JARV IS… – “Save The Whales”

Jarvis Cocker, the former (?) frontman of Pulp, has a new band that he’s calling JARV IS… Back in 2018, JARV IS… started playing live shows. Last year, they released “Must I Evolve?,” their first single. Earlier this year, they shared another one, “House Music All Night Long,” and they announced the impending release of their debut album Beyond The Pale. That album was supposed to be out by now, but the pandemic threw release dates into disarray. Today, JARV IS… have come out with the welcome news that, after initially being bumped to September, Beyond The Pale will now see release in July. They’ve also shared another one of its tracks.

The new JARV IS… song is called “Save The Whale,” and it’s the opening track from Beyond The Pale. Given how often Cocker sings the words “beyond the pale” on the song, it’s basically the title track, too. Just like “Must I Evolve?” and “House Music All Night Long,” “Save The Whales” is consumed with the big themes of human evolution and extinction. Cocker opens the song by muttering, “Take your foot off the gas because it’s all downhill from here.” That sets the playfully bleak tone.

Musically, “Save The Whale” carries clear echoes of I’m Your Man-era Leonard Cohen. Cocker intones breathily over drum-machine blips and tense violins, while dispassionate backing vocals coo softly behind them. You have to be a hell of a writer and a presence to even attempt to go to the Leonard Cohen well. Cocker, as it happens, is a hell of a writer and a presence. Listen to “Save The Whales” below.

In a press-release statement, Cocker says that the Leonard Cohen parallels are no accident:

The title popped into my head as I was leaving the cinema after having seen Nick Broomfield’s Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love documentary. The “Smooth World, Wrinkly World” section came from a childhood memory of being ill: I would hear the murmuring of a large crowd accompanied by a visual image of a line-drawing (rather like a Patrick Caulfield painting, I’ve since realized) in which all the objects switched rapidly between being smooth & bulbous & then thin & wrinkly. It used to absolutely terrify me. Weirdly enough, Jason (our electronics wizard) said he had a similar childhood experience except he used to see a teapot surrounded by psychedelic outlines of itself. Emma (our violinist & backing vocalist) found herself singing “Smooth World, Wrinkly World” as a lullaby to her 18 month-old daughter the other night. Pass it on.

The JARV IS… debut album Beyond The Pale is now coming out 7/17 on Rough Trade Records. Pre-order it here.