A celebration of the LP, the long-player, the album music format. Reviews, recommendations and discussion.

Undeclared Masterpiece #1: His ‘n’ Hers – Pulp (1994)


After a little break for Christmas, and in lieu of an album-of-the-week review (new one coming next week), here is the first in an occasional series called Undeclared Masterpieces.

The aim of these installments is to sing the praises of an album which I think has been unfairly underestimated. That isn’t to say that these records are obscure or unheard of, more that they’re just not given quite as much attention as they deserve. Sometimes an artist releases a hugely acclaimed album that overshadows the rest of their work and so an astounding album may get a little lost in the hullabaloo. Or perhaps a record is just not considered cool enough to feature in the omnipresent best of lists but actually given a chance it turns out to be pretty damn fine.

These are records which I think should be included in any self respecting all-time-greats list but for reasons beyond my understanding are inexplicably absent.

So to the first entry in this series, His ‘n’ Hers by Pulp. Yes, yes, Different Class is great, they will forever be defined by Common People and Disco 2000, but in my opinion their true masterpiece is this from 1994.

Whereas Different Class was a polished pop gem from a band who knew they had made it, His ‘n’ Hers was Pulp at their seedy, rough around the edges best. Filled with laments to relationships of the past the album is a plea to give it another go as we weren’t that bad together after all.

Every song is a highlight, Have You Seen Her Lately is an emotional warning to a friend in a bad relationship, a theme that continues into Do You Remember The First Time, a song that sounds joyous on the surface but the lyrics reveal it to be rather cynical and slightly aggressive. The vaguely sinister perviness of Babies to the innuendo-laden Pink Glove mean this record is one that demands to be listened to with no distractions. Background music it ain’t.

Jarvis Cocker’s voice, with it’s flattened vowels, portrays the situations with such vividness and conviction you feel you have lived through the record with him. The performance of the front man certainly goes a long way to making this record what it is but for me it is not the reason this album deserves to be called a masterpiece. As much as I love Jarvis I don’t think it is a coincidence that his solo career never reached the heights of his Pulp days. What makes this record truly a great is the performance of the rest of the band, most specifically the awesome keyboard playing of Candida Doyle.

I’m no musician so I cannot do justice to the contribution of the band fully. I could describe what I find so compelling about the keyboards on this record by using such technical terms as ‘beeps’ and ‘plink-plonks’ but I think it far better if I just say check out her playing on She’s A Lady, and especially the outro of Have You Seen Her Lately. It is these little touches that mean that each time I listen to this record it feels like the first time. I can’t imagine ever getting bored of it, I really do hear something new every time. The lyrics and the vocal performance are immediately satisfying but the music means it will never grow tired.

I hope this may have inspired you to check out this record if you haven’t before, or give it another listen if you have. It truly is a masterpiece.

Lipgloss *
Acrylic Afternoons
Have You Seen Her Lately *
She’s A Lady *
Happy Endings
Do You Remember The First Time?
Pink Glove *
Someone Like The Moon
David’s Last Summer

* = Standout Tracks (though really I could have put a star next to all of them)


One comment on “Undeclared Masterpiece #1: His ‘n’ Hers – Pulp (1994)

  1. Every Record Tells A Story
    January 10, 2013

    Still think it is #2 to different class – but only just. Nice review.

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