It’s always nice to see a band go out with a bang. Sometimes though it’s more fitting for a band to say goodbye, rather than farewell. For me, that’s what We Love Life represents. Pulp’s final original album release, the culmination of thirty years of musical history. As poetic as you’d expect, but rightfully unmemorable, the bands last hurrah is really more of a sombre fade than anything else.
Weeds as an opening song should be stronger than it is. Some half decent lyrics and a steady, foot tapping beat don’t blend like they should. It’s a consistent problem throughout the album, bar a handful of songs. Weeds II is of significantly lower quality. I’m all for Pulp’s experimental music, their early stuff is solid, however this song alone is something I simply can’t bear. Not that I wouldn’t listen to it, but it’s possibly the worst Pulp song available. Like every song Pulp produced, the lyrics are genius, but it’s unforgettably dull.
Of course, the album does have some highlights to it. It really begins to pick up with The Night that Minnie Timperley Died. A beautiful beat and some evocative performances from the band, specifically Cocker and his superb lyrical abilities. With such a shaky start to the album, you’d be surprised as to how quickly it picks itself up and then falls so suddenly once again. It suffers from much the same problems as This is Hardcore (1998), in which the tone of the album is simply all over the place. The Trees really is one of those songs that Pulp will never be remembered for. Lyrically and instrumentally, a very boring affair that I’ve only listened to once or twice outside of the album itself. I actually managed to find the music video for The Trees and boy is it weird.
Without a doubt the highlight of the album is the almost forgotten Birds in Your Garden. Something about its acoustic simplicity is very appealing to me, and for the most part is one of my favourite Pulp songs. Possibly in my personal top three. To have it tucked away so oddly in the middle of the album is what surprises me the most. It should’ve been the single to go along with the album, regardless of whether or not it’s another shot at creating the pop anthem that was Common People. Pulp did try to do so with Sunrise, and to be fair they gave it a really good go. More instrumental than anything else, it’s a long guitar solo peppered with a handful of lyrics.
If there were ever a song to explain how tonally abrupt Pulp became it would be I Love Life. A song which starts with a rather slow beat and melody, ending up as a fast paced, heavy hitting rock song. It makes no sense, but it’s still quite an enjoyable song to listen to even with this major issue.
Music doesn’t always have to have a message to it. Some of it can simply just sound good. But with We Love Life, it feels like a somber farewell without really having that impact at the same time. Pulp never planned on splitting up after the release of this album, it just sort of happened. None of these songs feel like a permanent end to the band, it’s almost as if they had just one more hit in them. Maybe that’s what their final release, After You, was meant to be. However, we’ll simply never know.
Of course, Cocker went on to release two single albums, and they’re both fairly strong. But the best songs of Further Complications (2009) don’t scratch the surface of Pulp’s best work. We Love Life feels like Pulp attempting to return to their roots, but getting lost along the way.