Nowadays, pop music has plenty of weirdness to it (See: Gwar, all screamo bands). It also has enough singer-songwriters to fill a million coffee shops. But rare is the artist who is really weird and still wonderfully talented. Cue New Jersey-born, England-raised artist Cosmo Jarvis. Already something of a big deal in the UK, Jarvis returns with his sophomore album, a wacky, emotionally resonant collection of songs with the best kind of musical ADHD out there.
Defining Jarvis isn’t overly difficult, but doing so feels as if you’re limiting something truly one of a kind. Jarvis is at home in a number of styles, from the folklorico reinterpretation of every early Arctic Monkeys track on “Dave’s House” to the emo-fied existential crisis/Beatles homage of the title track. But Jarvis isn’t just a guy who makes simple gimmicks. These creations are overflowing with genuine, earnest emotional statements and his own off-the-wall brand of humor. Album opener “Gay Pirates” is, surface-wise, a novelty track (complete with bubbly string instruments), but jokes aside, the song is a stirring and heartbreaking ode to true love. The album, though, is at its finest on “She Doesn’t Mind”. Like The Joker covering Jack Johnson, the groove saunters over goofy lines about an amazing, albeit probably fictional, girl Jarvis is madly in love with. His delivery and ability to remove himself from the situation with more bizarre musical garnishes reels the listener in, before eventually unveiling a sea of pain and anxiety.
It might seem that dressing up one’s grief in a bad limerick may be damaging to the material, but Jarvis does so with such respect and ease that there’s no threat of that ever occurring. Each sentiment is allowed to grow and spread at its own pace, as well as to blend organically. No one combines humor and misery as succinctly or as ear-catchingly well as Jarvis. And that ain’t no joke.
Essential Tracks: “Gay Pirates”, “She Doesn’t Mind”