‘Is there anything sadder than a hotel room that hasn’t been fucked in?’
Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales have delivered a ghostly meditation on pretzels, blonde bombshells and other tricks of the light:
When we think of hotels, full of stories of wreck and ruin, we immediately go to the iconic Chelsea Hotel: where grisly murders, coked up transexuals and head on an unmade bed were inclusive. Room 29 takes you under the sheen of The Chateau Montmartre, showing the crack which let the light in; leaving many stars broken beyond repair.
Jarvis Cocker, who went from working at one point at a fishmongers in Sheffield to the dizzying heights of Pulp, acts as the perfect curator; dreamily observing the stars and his own dealings with the allure of glamour and fame: The same voice which picked apart the girls eating boxes of MilkTray alone is back to focus on Hollywood.
Chilly Gonzales compliments this beautifully, giving the album a style closer to Cocker’s radio shows. Room 29 is stripped back to give it a more ‘lounge’ feel that allows you to focus solely on the lyrics. Of course, These are lyrics that you’ll actually want to focus on; there’s so much to dissect it’s thicker than a Hollywood starlet on valium.
‘Trick of the Light’ seductively takes on falling for Hollywood movies and contains cryptic nods towards Cocker’s own experiences: ‘I lost my wife…and that Hollywood!’ it seems even the ex-fishmonger can view his own life just as sardonically as he’s viewed everyone else. Though there’s plenty of observations that keeps me coming back to Room 29.
The album contains a multitude of witty lines on stars of the 1930s from Jean Harlow, Howard Hughes et all; but a lot of the imagery comes from Cocker’s own imagination; ‘Ice Cream as Main Course’ as a hedonistic ode to days of turbans of silk, chocolate milk and shots of rum doesn’t need to be explained; it’s luscious arrangement tells you everything you need to know.
‘Belle Boy’ in particular, features a particularly raunchy segment on discovering a hotel guest mid coitus; All delivered with glee that could come across as a bit pantomime in the hands of a less talented vocalist. Unlike Bob Dylan, there’s only a hint of age in Cocker’s voice and that’s probably just a trick of the light.
I have no reservations about this album; it has all the power of a 70’s Bowie album and will be spoken about in the same way someday. So help yourself to pretzels…help yourself to the minibar…This album is like sonic room service.