Jarvis Cocker and a revolving lineup of Pulp members had been making indie-rock records for ten years before finally getting it right with the humorous ode to lost virginity, 1994's "Do You Remember the First Time?" Suitably encouraged, Cocker went on to write "Common People," a song about rich students who go slumming that had everything a class anthem should -- pain, passion, poetry, wit, and energy. An instant classic, "Common People" formed the backbone to the band's subsequent album, Different Class,
which further details the minutiae of British working-class life circa 1995. "Sorted for E's and Wizz" is a cynical but touching observation of rave culture, "Disco 2000" a reflection between childhood friends on their past and future, and "Mis-Shapes" nothing less than a call for revolution. Still, on the rest of the album, Cocker's subjects spend most of their time in doomed relationships, as on "Pencil Skirt," "Underwear," and "Live Bed Show." Musically, the six-piece group veers between '70s glam and British music hall while constantly threatening to break into stadium rock. Though the lyrics sailed over the heads of most Americans (who preferred the follow-up, This Is Hardcore
), Different Class
is one of the great musical social commentaries of our time.