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PJ Harvey - Uh Huh Her


Review: Jack Foley

SOMETHING tells me PJ Harvey is angry. From the opening guitar rifts of Uh Huh Her, you can tell this is a lady on a mission.

There is a raw, edgy quality to the album, that separates it, quite distinctly, from the fine production values of former album, Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea.

Opening track, The Life and Death of Mr Badmouth, for instance, contains lyrics such as 'your lips taste of poison', and references to a foul-mouthed, self-important former lover, who deserves to have his mouth washed out with salt, as his 'bad mouth has killed off everything we had'.

"Wash it out, wash it out," she sings, all the while guided by the driving guitar which undercuts the lyrics.

Later on, she's screaming 'Fuck! Fuck! Fuck you!', during the aptly-named Who The Fuck?, which, quite possibly, features the singer at her most deranged, following a disastrous visit to the hairdressers.

And on second track, Shame, she laments 'I jumped for you into the flame, tried to go forward with my life, but just feel shame, shame, shame' - once more, feeling scorned.

The latter, in particular, seems to suit her earthy, blues-influenced alt-rock down to a tee, but the edginess can be off-putting.

Nothing on Uh Huh Her comes close to the mainstream accessibility of This Is Love and the album feels a little less likeable for it.

And it's clear that Harvey has also been influenced by her time spent in the dessert with Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age), on his Desert Sessions project last year, which was notable for its return to basics.

There are notable moments, of course, most notably in the form of The Pocket Knife, in which a young girl pleads with her mother not to give her away - 'Please don't make my wedding dress, I'm too young to marry yet...'.

And former single, The Letter, contains an edgy style that harks back to her formative years.

But there are also moments when the album drifts into mediocrity, as though the listener has stumbled into a jamming session of unfinished demos.

It keeps things raw, even exciting, but it's likely to alienate anyone who jumped on the Harvey bandwagon around the time of the last album.

For the die-hards among you, however, this probably marks Polly Jean at her most fiery and best.

But while it will certainly win the artist a lot more acclaim, it could end up being something you admire more than play.

Still, as the artist, herself, states: "I just want to make my own fuck-ups."

There are times during the album that she comes close - but even then, you can't help but admire her for having the balls to do it, which is why she consistently remains one of the most important artists working in alt-rock today.

 

Track listing:
1. The Life And Death Of Mr. Badmouth
2. Shame
3. Who The Fuck?
4. The Pocket Knife
5. The Letter
6. The Slow Drug
7. No Child Of Mine
8. Cat On The Wall
9. You Come Through
10. It's You
11. The End
12. The Desperate Kingdom Of Love
13. Seagulls
14. The Darker Days Of Me & Him
15. Who The Fuck? (Video)

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