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Pulp His ‘n’ Hers

Pulp’s breakthrough album is one that saw them fully move away from Sheffield’s indie scene to the comparative glitz and commercialism of London and Island Records, a transition that had them suddenly lumped together with the likes of Suede, Oasis and Blur as 'Popular Bands Who Write About Stuff That Happens In Britain'.

None of those acts would match Pulp’s astute take on the country’s national condition. More so than on its follow-up Different Class, or indeed on Suedeor Modern Life is Rubbish, His ‘n’ Herswas a record that captured both the optimism of the 90s and the mundane angst of the decade that preceded it.

Crucially, Pulp weren’t from anywhere cool like Manchester or London. Sheffield had been decimated by Thatcher in the 80s, and her cruelty had left the city with very little. Britpop wasn’t only founded at Goldsmiths University or in the remnants of Madchester. Its wry humour had to be found in something far more ordinary. His ‘n’ Hers offers a rare insight into the glamour and humdrum of post-industrial Yorkshire, a world of Acrylic Afternoons and Lipgloss.

You can visualise Sheffield’s terraces in the opening strains of ‘Babies’, its factories in the pulsing beat of ‘She’s A Lady’, its smut in ‘Pink Glove’. Nothing until Arctic Monkeys’ debut a decade or so later, or anything before it, has evoked Sheffield so vividly, and Cocker’s masterful storytelling and deft grasp of irony is something that feels unique to it.

Pulp would become pop stars as a result, more Groucho Club than Graves Park, but their legacy is one that would remind the nation that there’s more to music than the cities with the most A&R executives per square mile. The real gems are often found on the periphery.

Jon Clark

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