One feature of all these 'Albums of the Decade' lists is that everything on there has to be important.
I can understand this. When reviewing 10 years of music, it's arguably necessary to include the records that actually mattered (provided they're any good, obviously) rather than simply good collections of songs.
But not everything. "Oh, it's so vital," they cry. "It's brimming with vitality. It's vital you listen to this album." This obsession with importance is probably why many of the these lists are so self-important themselves.
Although I can see its purpose, and I've probably used it myself to describe Bob Dylan in the '60s, I hate the word 'important' being used, overused, to describe music. You'll probably notice quite a few 'important' artists and albums absent from this list, including both of The Guardian's top two - because as 'vital' as they are, the songs contained within are on one album hit and miss and on the other insufferable (by the way, as uninformed as this list is, I'm just glad it's not as predictable as The Guardian's top eight).
Basically, important is overrated. Here, then, is one the least important albums released this decade.
Jarvis - Jarvis Cocker 
Jarvis Cocker, the then 43-year-old ex-frontman of Pulp, made this record out of sheer boredom. The malaise of living in France doing little with his time had had its effect. He even tired of touring, playing increasingly obscure covers every night just to maintain his own interest.
With so much time on his hands, it's odd the eventual release of a solo album, four years after Pulp's split, was arguably quite lazy - very little promotion and even the title is neither here nor there, with different sections of the packaging calling it The Jarvis Cocker Record, Jarvis Cocker or just Jarvis (actually, Just Jarvis would be a much better title).
Its contents, though, are superb. The musical juxtaposition (ugh, I really, really tried to avoid using that horrible word) of brash and understated is bang on, and there isn't a bad track to be heard. Lyrically it's sublime - equal parts weary and complacent, all the while sharply sardonic in the typical groove of Jarvis' wit.
One song charts the singer's death, beaten to a bloody pulp (sorry) by angry youths who "wobble menacingly" in the street light. He dies - "the police force was elsewhere, putting bullets in some guy's head for no particular reason" - but he comes back to haunt them: his spirit "walks the streets of Tottenham".
Now that's just aggressive whimsy (something also seen on the joyously seething secret track Running The World) and nothing on the fragile beauty of I Will Kill Again, but it still beats the competition into a Cockered (sorry) hat. Around 95% of Pulp's lyrical output consisted of Jarvis asking, "Why are you with him when you could be with me?" and while there are still elements of that on this record - Don't Let Him Waste Your Time provides a fantastic chunk of spurned-lover pop - he's moved on to perhaps better climes.
Musically, too, Jarvis is exactly as it should be: full of toned down piano-led boutiques interspersed with anthemic pop tunes led by massive guitar riffs. The decision to strip I Will Kill Again to its bones is not just intelligent but genius, adding wistful pathos to the nonsensical flair of the song title.
Oh, the song titles. Fat Children, From Auschwitz To Ipswich, Disney Time...each one is more than just amusing; it's a careful microcosm of the song, introducing the majesty in a word or two, like a Hitchcock thriller.
The hits keep coming. Big Julie is a wonderful tribute that soars as it continues and Quantum Theory is about as tender as it gets - a beautiful, beautiful song.
So - Jarvis Cocker's pseudo-self-titled debut solo album. A very good record. It doesn't define anything or any time, it didn't change the world of music, but it's a damn fine listen that gets even better every time and it's just good enough to make this list.
2 years ago