A sharp-tongued obsessive as alert to his own failings as to the inequities of the world, Jarvis Cocker spares no one. With Further Complications, his second solo album following Pulp’s dissolution, he directs most of his dark wit back at himself. “This is no mouthwatering proposition,” he tells a prospective lover on “Leftovers,” a track that starts with him admitting he has a few more years behind him since his days as Britpop’s intellectual pin-up of choice. But he still sounds seductive in spite of it all, which says a lot about how good he is at what he does. Few can turn self-flagellation into an act of seduction.
Further Complications turns up the volume on Cocker’s dark introspection. Steve Albini’s production retains some of the lushness Cocker favored on Pulp’s later albums and his solo debut, while investing it with a new punchiness. The approach ups the drama on Cocker’s tales of mid-life desire and failure. “I will never get to touch you, so I wrote this song instead,” Cocker sings on “Fuckingsong,” and the buzzing guitar surrounding him has the sound of redirected lust. It isn’t all cutting remarks and riff-heavy gloom, however. The eight-plus minutes of “You’re In My Eyes (Discosong)” finds Cocker reuniting under a strobe light with someone who might make him happy. If not, chances are good he’ll still get a song out of it.