I can count on the fingers of one hand the albums I own (some 2000) where I like every single track. This is one of them. Polly Harvey's finest hour as a musician / performer and a deeply intense and disturbing listen, shot through with a wonderfully black humour.
The sheer sonic rush of the three-piece Dry and Rid of Me is banished in favour of a much more eclectic mixture of styles, blending some meanacing organs with flamenco and acoustic blues guitars, upon which Polly could weave her vocal magic. And how. She growls, howls, hisses, moans, shrieks, thunders and begs her way through this collection, alternating from lost, crushed girl to potential killer to seductive predator to banshee, frequently within the same song. Like most of Polly's work, it borders on being a concept album, and is all the better for it.
High quality musicianship is evidenced throughout. The greatest compliment you can provide is to say there is nothing to complain about; you don't notice anything wrong, ero, it's excellent. Doesn't happen often that. Production is generally good, though there's some compression. Nothing too bad though, and it's clearly been mixed for a slightly 'dark' sound. There are no stand out tracks, given that they all belong in place, but it contains some of her most famous pieces; Down by the Water, Send His Love to Me, Long Snake Moan and C'mon Billy are all there and ready to suck you in. You can practically see Polly's wry smile in many places; she's a gifted wordsmith, and deliberately ambivalent with her stories.