Pin It
Favorite

CD Review 

by Mike Corrigan


Polly Jean Harvey lets you read her like a book. She doesn't hide, doesn't lie. That's why you love her so much. If you climb into the car when she's at the wheel, you're in for the duration. She might roll up the windows and turn on the heater just to make you sweat. Or veer into the path of a cement mixer just to watch your fingers tear into the dashboard. But here, there's no backing out, no surrender. You've just got to hold on until the spinning and the squealing and the screaming stops -- and she drops you off.


Of course, when she does that, you almost immediately start begging for another spin.


Four years is a long time to wait between PJ Harvey releases. Her last outing, Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea was a knock-out siren song cycle, a breathtaking and uncharacteristically (for the artist) optimistic affirmation of love's potential to sooth, inspire and transfigure. Uh Huh Her (Island Records), in contrast, re-examines the black heart of that emotion -- even to the point of calling into question its very worth. It would appear those last four years were awfully rough.


The sound is different, too. Jagged and raw like exposed sinews, Uh Huh Her was recorded on the warm and dirty in her analog home studio, with Harvey playing most of the instruments herself. Yet even where she enlists help (notably, from longtime collaborator, drummer Rob Ellis) the arrangements are spare, often consisting only of Harvey's exquisite vocals and guitar or keyboard.


Songs herein are generally true in tone to their ominous titles: "The Life and Death of Mr. Badmouth," "Shame," "The End," "The Darker Days of Me and Him." In a desperate bid for distance and cleansing, Harvey holds little back, cursing, howling, crooning and whispering through a dozen unnerving tracks (two selections are short instrumentals). Yet all is not despair and degradation. The very pretty "You Come Through" acknowledges solidarity in friendship, at least, while "The Desperate Kingdom of Love" puts on a brave face to champion vulnerability.


Wading through such troubling and beautiful revelations of personal pain, one can't help but empathize with Harvey and trust that in the making of this record she experienced some measure of sweet catharsis, if not hope.





Publication date: 07/22/04
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Class Act
  • Class Act

    Seeing through money differences can build relationships focused on fairness
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Don's Ultimate Con
  • Don's Ultimate Con

    Trail Mix: Trump's birther problems and Johnson's polls
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Transparent Motives
  • Transparent Motives

    One candidate's an open book; the other is shrouded in secrecy. Guess which one isn't transparent enough
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival

Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival @ Riverfront Park

Through Oct. 30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Mike Corrigan

  • Lights, Camera, Skate
  • Lights, Camera, Skate

    Two local artists have transformed their love of skateboarding into a new variety show on Community Television.
    • Dec 14, 2011
  • Time Travelers
  • Time Travelers

    For some local store owners, finding intriguing merchandise isn’t just business, it’s an obsession.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    A raucous good time from Thee Oh Sees. Plus, vintage horror and a Berlin filmmaker to check out.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • A Persistent Life
  • A Persistent Life

    Scott Reed won more cases than he lost in life, and the beauty of the Coeur d'Alene area has been the beneficiary
    • May 27, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation