‘Of the times’. A potentially damning phrase that suggests nostalgia, or a lack of modernity. In the case of Pulp’s Different Class, it’s paradoxically of its time, but also still relevant and sounding great, even 20 years on. Bravo.

It was their fifth album, but absolutely nailed all their talent, creativity and ambition with this one. The Big Themes of sex, youth, class, alienation all feature heavily in the lyrics. Deft storytelling from (must be some day) potential national treasure, Jarvis Cocker, comes in the form of his iconic whispering and dulcet Sheffieldian tones. We don’t know what they put in the water up there but it produces such obvious lyrically and musically talented bands as Arctic Monkeys, Human League, Heaven 17, Longpigs, Moloko, ABC … The list goes on, time moves on, but Sheffield still inspires.

The great tradition of write what you know, runs a rich seam throughout Pulp’s work. Whilst the music is at times grandiose (Something Strange, I Spy) or jauntily new-wave with splashes of synth (DISCO2000, Common People), the lyrics consistently amuse and engage, as it sits you down in the comfy chair and tell you stories that you hang on every one of its words.

Britpop was in full flow, it was the dawn of a new political era, and there was optimism in the air, but for Pulp, Different Class felt like it was trapped in a social bubble that floated above the crowd and managed to stand out, especially as it all seemed to be about London, or rather, Camden.

Mis-shapes (…mistakes and misfits) puts the outsider centre stage. Pencil skirt is our first dollop of Pulp sauce – a cheeky organ line runs through it. Common People – we all know and love the tune and video. Nuff said. Although, the relevance of the album and its storytelling meant that the ‘rich student’ character in the song was supposedly revealed this year after investigation. The enduring power of a tune can’t be underestimated if its causing intrigue 20 years on.

Out of the 11 tracks, there are probably 5 that can be hailed as ‘classic’ (you know what they are), but revisiting the whole album, you get the real scope of it. Nothing’s filler. Each track has its place. I Spy is a Bond-esque homage that would kick Sam Smith’s whiny ass off the top spot; all Third Man zither and epic John Barry style string arrangement. Underwear is a slightly seedy, yet sympathetic number, and Monday Morning (the album’s trials and tribulations of escaping on the weekend inevitably all wind up here) veers from ska to a Pulp take on mariachi.

There are a lot of influences on the album, but the overall effect is, yep, that’s Pulp. Jarvis’s use of language brings all the characters to life, grotesque or otherwise. 20 years on, and he DJs (we’ve seen him en-route to a gig with a Tesco carrier bag full of 7″s…pure Jarvis), broadcasts on 6music and as said, is on his way to becoming a national treasure. Pulp, Different Class…already is.

…and here are some Spotify facts on Different Class;

It is mostly streamed here in the UK
Most popular with 35-44 year olds
36% of listeners are female, 64% are male
The most streams ever on Friday 9th October
Common People has the most streams with 17,394,437 listens!