His 'N' Hers is the fifth album by British glam-pop group Pulp. It was released by Island Records on June 21, 1994 in the United States and about three months prior to that in the United Kingdom. Every song was written by some permutation of the group, with the music credited to Pulp and the lyrics credited to lead vocalist Jarvis Cocker. The album was produced by Ed Buller.
Pulp had been in existence since 1978 with very little mainstream success; in fact, this was their first new album after the signing of their first major label recording contract. In early 1992, Pulp was signed with Gift Records; while there, they released a series of singles, culminating with My Legendary Girlfriend and Babies in late 1992, which gave the band their first taste of success; these two singles are also credited for being one of the first hints of the Britpop boom in the mid-1990s. As a result of this success, Pulp signed with Island Records in late 1992 and they went into the studio to record this album, their major label debut.
When it came out in the spring of 1994, it earned positive reviews and became an unexpected success, reaching the British Top Ten; it was also nominated for the 1994 Mercury Award. The album brimmed with great music and promise of more to come, a promise fulfilled on their enormously successful 1995 album Different Class with its huge hit, Common People, which catapulted the band into the stratosphere of success.
This album is a collection of great pop-rock songs from start to beginning, but it's much like listening to Rubber Soul by The Beatles; in itself it is great, but it's interesting all over again because it's the sound of a band just on the cusp of something great.
The band's sound, for the unlucky people who have never heard Pulp, is something like David Bowie or Roxy Music, for lack of anything else comparable. The lead vocalist somewhat sounds like Bowie and the songs are similarly glam-rock oriented. That's not to mean that they sound like him, but he's the most comparable artist I can think of.
The album opens with Joyriders (3:25), which starts off quite abruptly with Cocker's voice appearing less than a second into the track. If you've never heard Pulp, this is an appropriate introduction (especially the first minute, before the song breaks down). The first thing to notice is Jarvis Cocker's voice sounding like a sensual David Bowie; the second thing to notice is the great pop sensibility that seems to bury a fair amount of catchiness into every song. The track itself seems to be making fun of British youth, many of which think of little else but drinking and soccer. A good opener to a great album.
Lipgloss (3:34) is an ode to a girl discarded by a careless man. The idea of the uncaring man being cruel to and using a girl is a common theme throughout their music, even to a certain degree in their biggest hit, Common People. This is a very good track, but it pales in comparison to the handful of great ones that come later in the album; still, it's good enough that it keeps your attention instead of making you want to skip ahead to some of the later magic.
Acrylic Afternoons (4:09) has always reminded me of David Bowie's China Girl for some reason that I cannot quite put my finger on. The song's about a single mother who has had a string of lovers, the latest of which is singing the song. It's kind of pessimistic towards both of them; again, the pessimism is a common theme in the band's music.
The first track I would call "great" on this album is the fourth one, Have You Seen Her Lately? (4:11). For the first time on the album, everything absolutely clicks on this one, a tale of a girl in a destructive relationship and a friend (the singer) trying to talk her into getting out of it. The spacy and soft guitarwork makes this song truly come together, especially during the choruses, where Cocker really lets his voice go.
The fifth track is Babies (4:04), the band's first hit from 1992. This version is very similar and it's easy to hear why this song caught people's ears. The percussion is very subtle and with only a single guitar playing a very simple riff interrupting, this song is utterly dominated by Cocker's vocals... and that's a good thing. It's an interesting tale about a guy who has a crush on a girl but ends up with her sister instead. The vocals and lyrics steal the show here, and they're both great.
She's A Lady (5:49) is a huge change of pace on this album with a huge amount of electronic backing; they often use electronica but it is in abundance here. The song tells the tale of an affair and the emotional confusion has caused and is quite good once it reaches the two and a half minute mark. The first two minutes of this track might be the weakest part of this album, but the great conclusion redeems it.
Happy Endings (4:57) is oddly enough like a wedding march, appropriate given the title and the subject, I suppose. The song is about a guy wanting an idealistic end to a relationship - and not getting it, of course. It's a good song, but it is followed by two amazing ones.
Do You Remember the First Time? (4:22) is the first song I ever heard by Pulp, and it was good enough that I almost immediately bought this album. It's a song about a girl who has had so many lovers over the years that the magic of making love is lost on her. The chorus here is absolutely magic, so good that it makes me wish I had a voice with range so I could sing it even half as well as Jarvis Cocker does.
As good as the preceding track was, it was the one that followed it that made me a true fan of this group. Pink Glove (4:48) is an uptempo yet still melancholy pop song that's just great in every way. The way the music builds throughout the song, the vocals, the guitar as it swells up, the lyrics about a girl who is trying to change herself to please a guy (and why she shouldn't)... it all just clicks here. It's one of a handful of songs I've ever heard that is so good that I wish I had written it myself. Just absolutely fantastic, and it demonstrates the possibilities of greatness in pop music.
After the preceding two, nearly anything would come off like a letdown, but the remainder of the album is excellent as well. Someone Like the Moon (4:18) is extremely soft and mellow, very much the opposite of the preceding track, but somehow it works, too, showing off the range of the band. The song is very melancholic about a hopeless romantic; a very spacy and downbeat song.
David's Last Summer
(7:01) is another winner to end the album proper. It's about a summer relationship nearing it's end. The vocals during the verses here are almost spoken word, an interesting change of pace. It's a mix of upbeat music but melancholic vocals that makes a nice close to the album, an appropriate closer.
There is a hidden track, Razzmatazz (3:41), that one finds after a blank gap at the end of the preceding song. It's a very pop-oriented track, probably the most straightforward song on the disc, about a girl who falls prey to every guy who comes around. An interesting end, much like how Her Majesty follows The End on The Beatles' Abbey Road.
This is a great pop album, especially for anyone who has a liking for David Bowie. If you enjoy this disc, others that you might enjoy include David Bowie's album Heroes and Pulp's own Different Class.