Dark magic from a forgotten world here. Only one recording of ‘Snow’ survives – a deteriorated multi-generation tape copy of a live performance from December 1984 – but of the ‘lost’ 84/85 songs, it is easily the most fondly remembered, drawing near-universal praise from those who’ve managed to hear it. Does it stand up to this reputation then? Well, yes, but just about.
A windswept, plaintive but strangely aggressive song, ‘Snow’ sounds distinctly chilly in every way. Dominating the piece is Candida’s hauntological keyboard line – a ghostly relic of some 60s British sci-fi soundtrack. Jarvis mutters half-written lyrics in a rhythmic fashion, like Subterranean Homesick Blues or It’s The End Of The Words As We Know It – but without the confidence or enthusiasm of either of those, instead altering between flustered in the verses and dominating in the chorus. After a few cycles we enter a Supertramp-style prog rock space-race middle eight, followed by a shouted version of the chorus.
It should be hard to tell what a song is about with half the lyrics missing, but we’re in the land of emotional metaphors here, so it’s familiar territory. It’s all cold weather standing in for cold behaviour, and revelling in both – a choice to be out in the cold for the perverse frisson of the experience. Quite original on the whole, but very much along the lines of Maureen or Blue Glow. The lyrics also, very oddly, riff on Cilla Black’s ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ – intentionally, I hope.
‘Snow’ sounds magical in performance, yes, and it’s tempting to imagine that it would’ve been even better in a recording studio, but this kind of Pulp song tends to melt under the studio lights. Perhaps it’s better remaining a secret.