His 'n' Hers (album)


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Details

Credits

  • Jarvis Cocker: Vocals, school piano, Vox Marauder guitar, EMS Synthi A
  • Russell Senior: Fender Stratocaster guitar, violin, bowed bass
  • Candida Doyle: Farfisa Compact Prefessional II organ, Stylophone 350S, Korg Trident II, Fender Rhodes piano, Wurlitzer piano, Hohner clavinette, Steinway grand piano
  • Nick Banks: Drums, percussion, treated cymbals, timpani, fire extinguisher
  • Steve Mackey: Fender jazz bass

Sleeve credits:

Tracklisting

  1. Joyriders (3:25)
  2. Lipgloss (3:34)
  3. Acrylic Afternoons (4:09)
  4. Have You Seen Her Lately? (4:11)
  5. Babies* (4:04)
  6. She's a Lady (5:49)
  7. Happy Endings (4:57)
  8. Do You Remember the First Time? (4:22)
  9. Pink Glove (4:48)
  10. Someone Like the Moon (4:18)
  11. David's Last Summer (7:01)
    Total length (CD): 50:46
    Total length (vinyl): 46:42

* Does not appear on the vinyl version

Info

His 'n' Hers is a 1994 album by Pulp and is commonly cited as the band's breakthrough album. In 1998, Q magazine readers voted it the 70th greatest album of all time. A "deluxe edition" was released on 11th September 2006. It contained a second disc of B-sides, demos and rarities. "Lipgloss", "Do You Remember The First Time?" and a new mix of "Babies" were released as singles, the latter as part of The Sisters EP.

It lost out to Elegant Slumming by M People in the 1994 Mercury Music Prize by, as presenter Mark Radcliffe put it in an edition of British rock show 'The White Room', "one measly vote".

Releases

Date

Formats and catalogue numbers

Notes

18 April 1994

CD - CID 8025

12" vinyl - ILPS 8025

Cassette - ICT 8025

Original UK release.

April 1994

CD - 314524006-2

Cassette - 314524006-4

US release.

Extra track:

  1. Razzmatazz

April 1994

CD - CIDX8025

French release.

Included a bonus CD containing:

  1. Seconds
  2. His 'n' Hers

11 September 2006

CD - 9840045

Deluxe edition. Includes a bonus disc of B-sides, demos and rarities. More details here.

3 December 2012

4 × 12" vinyl (180 gram) - MOVLP663

Deluxe edition audiophile vinyl release

Label: Music on Vinyl
Sleeve: Gatefold

Tracklisting: same as original Deluxe Edition release

Sleeve notes

Please deliver us from matching sweatshirts and 'chicken in the rough', from evenings sat on couple row admiring the flock, from Sundays spent parading the aisles of Meadowhall. We don't want to live like this. It's bad our health. Do Something soon or it's curtains (just as long as they match with the walls and the sofa).

Jarvis' comments

From Volume Ten, June 1994:

This was just a great big sigh of relief really, because for the first time ever in our long tortuous history we had enough time and money to do a record as we wanted to do it. It was really good because, having waited so long for that kind of opportunity, we weren't going to mess it up. The only real trauma was that we thought we'd summoned up the devil on the synthesiser that we were using. We had one of those old late '60s synthesisers that you can only get a sound on by plugging loads of leads in, like a telephone exchange or something. I was just messing around with it one day, and I got this strange sound that just played itself without touching the keyboard. It started off as a bit of a joke, but then even Ed Buller and the engineer believed it was evil and we all agreed that we couldn't put it on the record because it would doom it to failure. It's put me off using synthesisers a bit - I think we might go acoustic from now on.

Charts and sales

UK Album Chart

Week(s)

Date(s)

Position(s)

1

30 April '94

9

2

7 May '94

48

3 (re-entry)

4 June '94

68

4-6

11 to 24 June '94

55, 48, 63

7 (re-entry)

9 July '94

29

8-16

16 July to 10 September '94

44, 44, 65, 59, 44, 39, 41, 53, 45

17 (re-entry)

3 June '95

68

18-38

10 June to 4 November '95

49, 57, 60, 65, 42, 45, 47, 43, 38, 53, 51, 40, 38, 48, 57, 74, 55, 59, 48, 41, 51, 60

39 (re-entry)

7 September '96

38

40-43

14 to 28 September '96

49, 63, 75

UK Sales Awards

Award

Copies sold*

Date

Gold

100,000

1 February 1995

Silver

60,000

1 August 1994

* Awards are based on wholesale rather than retail sales.

Reviews

Chris Roberts in Melody Maker, 9th April 1994:

If all post-modernism is camp, Pulp are as ironic as a row of tents. Pulp are clever, knowing, ritzy and chintzy, and tremendously entertaining. What they are not - and this is commonly misperceived - is sexy. By exposing and highlighting the follies farcical flaws of the sex "act", by forcing you to chuckle at its ridiculous shape and ghastly consequences (Pulp may get momentarily aroused, but then they start thinking about used condoms and - worse still - pushchairs), they render their aura even less "sexy" than, say, the doyenne of signifiers over sensuality, Madonna. Also, Pulp allow comedy, which, being alert and sussed, is not sexy either. What Pulp are, at heart, is tragic. And there's a lot of comedy in that.

Clearly, then - if you follow me - Pulp are Best British Pop Group of 1994. With Jarvis panting and whinnying and neighing, a visionary showbiz clown hamming it up to deflect attention from his intensely distressing insights into love's futility, Pulp possess the perfect pulpit-basher. And if their sonic cathedral is more a wurlitzer in a leisure centre, so much the better for gritty realism and kitchen-sink drama. Though even to mention a kitchen sink with relation to Pulp is to start thinking of metaphors concerning "Fatal Attraction" - style shagging atop one, dishes dishevelled.

Pulp see this, after years of false starts and fallow middles, as their first proper album, and yes it has that sense of stature, that pride in itself as an event. Ed Buller choreographs a parade of fairground noises, European art-movie soundtracks, tacky pop, deliberately near-miss epic grandeur - all subservient to Jarvis' complex narratives of voyeurism and wish fulfilment. Even when Jarvis isn't narrating he's going "doo duh doo" or breathing heavily with the arch angst of it all. He's all over this record like Joel Grey in "Cabaret", like Marc Almond in Soft Cell, like Billy Liar testifying. You can see the fingertip flourishes, the hip wiggles, with your eyes shut. He's brilliant throughout, strutting that fine line between parody and profundity with relish.

Opening with the startling Suede piss-take (I think) of "Joy Riders" - "Hey, you, in the Jesus sandals / Come over and watch some vandals" - "His 'N' Hers" is bolstered by three beautifully crafted singles in "Lipgloss", "Babies" and "Do You Remember The First Time?". The phrase "Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah" is used to devastating effect. There are brooding verses, monolithic choruses. In "Acrylic Afternoons" Jarvis inoffensively gets from "On a pink quilted eiderdown / I wanna pull your knickers down" to "Just another cup of tea, please / Oh yes, thank you ... thank you" with devilish sleight of hand. Or sheer nerve. Or something. "She's My Lady" is the bastard hermaphrodite child of Space's "Magic Fly", Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", and the inner thought process of underwear thrown at Tom Jones. But dry gags like "It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow or even the day after" allow Jarvis to croon "And I just love the way she moves" with resurgent, genuine hurt in his voice. In "Happy Endings", the orchestra go "round and round"'' about 76 times, but it works because Jarvis is Peter Skellern and Pulp are nothing if not ambitious in their tradition-twisting deadpan diligence.

If the sinister perversions of "Pink Glove" don't make your head swim (lovers' doomed attempts to control each other are a constant theme), the funky low-rent "Cider With Rosie" re-write of "David's Last Summer" should drown any detachment.

Pulp are Eric Morecambe and Errol Brown as The Brothers Karamazov. Pulp are palpably dancing round the handbags of your brain. Pulp are... palpitations.

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Simon Williams in the NME, 16th April 1994:

It happens halfway through 'Acrylic Afternoon': as Jarvis Cocker pants and pig-squeals through this saga of suburban snoggery and the violin squiggles in the corner, you suddenly realise that what should be an hysterical farce à la 'Ooops Vicar. Where's My Trousers' is actually a discomforting, rather nasty piece of work. And you're not quite sure whether or not you like this Cocker bloke. Halfway through 'Have You Seen Her Lately', amid the howls of, "No, don't go round to see him tonight / He's made such a mess of your life," you're not quite sure if you like yourself.

Such is the sordidness of Pulp's Woolworthless world. After a full decade of posturing nonchalantly on the peripheries of public acceptance, it's hardly surprising that Sheffield's most diligent ambassadors of tank tops and bottom drawer confessions should have carved out such a twisted niche for themselves.

However, the fact that 'His 'N' Hers' should flirt with the kind of commercial nous more applicable to, say, flogging ice-cold Evian in the middle of the Sahara, is either a) a testament to Pulp's ability to nail down the human psyche, or b) simple proof that we're a nation of perverts. With a nice side, of course.

Because while Jarvis may groan on about teatime sex and sleazy adolescent experiences, he still comes across like Jilted John Travolta, the geek in the bad dancing shoes who couldn't actually harm you even if you demanded the social comforts of a binliner, a yard of flex and a bowl of fruit.

Which is why 'Happy Endings' is quite excellent, a sweeping ballroom extravaganza with lovely '70s disco gurgles and genuine Eurovision class, sealed by Cocker's admirable inability to hit all the correct high notes. Which is why 'Have You Seen...' is even better, a tripped-out melange of melodies and emotion which -like all great pop songs - dares to aim for vertiginous heights normal bands barely envisage. And which is why 'Lipgloss' and, in particular, 'Babies' retain a sense of head-spinning grandeur after countless plays.

For an over-decade sensation, Pulp sound implausibly fresh and indecently frenzied. The fact that the wildly indulgent paean to holidays of the past, 'David's Last Summer', brings to mind nothing less glorious than Bobby Goldsboro's seminal 'Summer (The First Time)' proves that Pulp have both an acute eye for seemingly banal detail and a grasp on timeless songcrafting.

Not all our lives are like Readers' Wives: that's why Ride didn't think of making a film about personalities losing their virginity. But 'His 'N' Hers mixes the venom of the voyeur with the flamboyance of the flirt so naturally that one can only writhe around the shag-pile wondering when on earth the record's main protagonist is going to be awarded his own Viz cartoon strip. 'Jarvis Cocker, The Sleazy Rocker'? Yip!

Who was that Brett geezer, anyway? (8)

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Mark Cooper in Q, June 1994:

A bizarre hybrid of Mark E. Smith, Alan Bennett and the oilier aspects of the Bonzos' Vivian Stanshall, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker is what used to be called "a bit of a one". Cocker has spent the past 10 years struggling on the indie circuit while perfecting his white trash love stories. Pulp share the same glam nostalgia as The World Of Twist and pick up where the Roxy Music of In Every Dream Home A Heartache left off, layering distorted guitars against the extraordinarily antiquated cheap synth sounds of Candida Doyle in a pop stew that is as archly self-aware as the fevered narratives. Cocker does sound disconcertingly like Suede's Brett Anderson but he is less of a self-dramatist and more a sly, foppish observer of life behind soiled lace curtains. His lovers are obsessive, overheated creatures, while romantic idylls like Acrylic Afternoons or the closing, half-spoken epic, David's Last Summer, are delightful precisely because they're doomed. ✰✰✰✰

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Andrew Harrison in Select:

Lou Reed's New York. Young Morrissey's Manchester. And now, to the globe-trotting rock fan's itinerary of cities-as-living-metaphors, we must add Jarvis Cocker's Sheffield. Let's face it, Def Leppard were never going to put the city in the charts, were they?

Anyone who's paid the slightest attention to Pulp's brilliant pupation from Indie curios to five-star leading-edge charity-shop deities will have noticed this obsession already. From 'Sheffield Sex City' (Candida Doyle's voyeuristic commentary on the town succumbing to hormonal craziness) to 'Deep Fried In Kelvin'' (Pulp's own 'Jerusalem' with Jarvis as the William Blake of the concrete estate), over the past two years of singles they've carved out their own landscape of endless suburban ambiguity. In Pulp's Steel City every net curtain could hide either an innocent teenage cider-drinking afternoon, or a sado-masochist housewife at the end of her pink frilly tether, and you're never quite sure which one Jarvis prefers. Probably both.

They've skilfully turned Sheffield into a soft-focus British Everytown that David Lynch would recognise if he'd had a decent comprehensive education, and it's not a million miles from the nameless Newtown dead-zone portrayed on Blur's 'Modern Life Is Rubbish'. But where Damon Albarn's version is a nightmare community of blank faces, Jarvis takes us into the kitchens and parlours and bedrooms to show us...what? To show us a city going mad with frustration, ennui and stoppered-up lust.

And – selfless character that he is – he does it all in the first person, turning the long awaited Proper Pulp Album into a kind of Robin Askwith Confessions Of A Crimplenist routine. In 'Acrylic Afternoon' ('Acrylic Afternoon'!) he's a desperate seducer pleading, panting and finally screaming over tea and Chocolate Hob-Nobs, while the seductee's kids play in the street outside. Amid the thumping daytime radio disco of 'She's A Lady', he's trying to reconcile lost love with his uncontrollable free-range cupidity, with the result that he starts seeing sex everywhere. "Where have you gone?" he howls. "The moon...the moon has gone down on the sun!" and this nifty juggling of comic moments with real pain keep 'His 'N' Hers' alive with surprises.

Vocal-wise, Jarvis isn't exactly the Mariah Carey of Eccleshall, but his battery of breathy inflections make the whole record sound like it's on heat. Whatever else, you can sure tell why the French like Pulp.

Of course, the band have their rock, pathos and passion conceived on a grand scale, but executed on a car-boot sale's worth of Stylophones, VL-Tones and digital kazoos, so that the arrangement somehow amplifies the tragedy of it all. It's a routine, yes, but it's theirs and if anyone's got a right to use it, they have. The record's prime example is 'Happy Endings', a miracle of a ballroom ballad which refurbishes the killer melodramatics of Abba's 'The Winner Takes It All' with added glitter, dry ice and revolving mirror-balls. But where the Abba song looks back on a dead affair, 'Happy Endings' is all unfulfilled hopes and wasted dreams, transported into a fantasy landscape dominated by Russell Senior's woozy violin.

After all this it's hard to see how the pat 'kitsch' label fits them any more. It would if they didn't mean it all, if the surfeit of man-made fibres in the songs didn't make them so alive with static magnetism that they'd pull paint off a passing car, and if Cocker didn't have such a laser-sighted eye for the tiny details that make these songs throb with life.

Dust floating through the window, cheap cider cooling in the canal, virginities not so much lost as mislaid...ring any bells? What is it with all these records? 'His 'N' Hers', 'Modern Life...' (and for that matter Blur's excellent upcoming 'Park Life'), 'Stay Together', 'Your Arsenal', 'Tiger Bay', even Elvis Costello's 'Brutal Youth' ...every half-accurate record about Britain in the 1990s has also been shot through with heart-crushing little scenes of broken people and spent hopes. Why? What is going on? Are we really like that? Pulp say, Yes you are, but 'His 'N' Hers' might help you cope a bit. 4/5

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Page last modified on February 12, 2017, at 09:23 AM