Denim - Denim On Ice

(Echo Label Ltd.)

And you thought Pulp had the monopoly on wry Northern glam-pop jewels? Think again. Ex-supremo of seminal 80s band Felt, frontman Lawrence is back with the second Denim long player - and Jarvis would do well to start looking over his shoulder.

Opening track The Great Pub Rock Revival sets the towering standard of things to come, vilifying the current media obsession with revivalism in favour of individualism, after all, "everybody believes what they read in the NME, everybody 'cept for me" are the noble sentiments deviously disguised in a Disco 2000-esque sing-a-long with Lawrence chorus.

Unafraid to join the growing club of Musical Magpies FC, never more so than on the gloriously audacious thieving of the unmistakeable backing drums from Ultravox's Vienna on the lavish Synthesisers In The Rain, yet it's always done with the tongue firmly planted in the cheek. Contrast this with tongue up the backside, Oasis approach to reappraising old music. Now, which would you rather, dear student?

In between playing 'spot the musical reference', revel in the defiant, endearing humour which permeates the grim, gritty real-life tales of Council Houses and Glue And Smack. Trust me, Job Centre is the song you want in your head when your University vacation draws to an end and your face to face with the real world. The comedy value scales a peak with the hilarious account of oral sex misadventure that is (ahem) Grandad's False Teeth.

Latest single Brumburger is an understated narrated gem, only outshone by the sublime, lilting, engaging pop tour de force of Mrs Mills and the seedy tale of soft-porn wannabe-stars and a smutty amateur photographer, The Supermodels. Lawrence's insatiable desire for pop stardom is still evident, check out Silly Rabbit and it's endless cries of "I Wanna Hear My Song On Your Radio", and really, he deserves to be a star. No more Damon Alblands, purrlease.

So, finally, has Lawrence's time come, and if so, in what role? To take over the gaping hole left by Pulp in pathetic indie elitists eyes now that even your long lost Auntie knows who Jarvis Cocker is? Or will they become every Pulp fans second favourite band, a la the Wedding Present and the Smiths. Who knows, who cares, just catch them on tour (with guess who?!) then buy this, savour Birmingham's brightest urban chroniclers.

***** (five stars)