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|1. The Life And Death Of Mr. Badmouth|
|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|
|14. The Darker Days Of Me & Him|
|15. Who The Fuck? (Video)|
So the question is, would she continue down the road of slickness or would we see get to see some of those exposed nerves once again?
The answer is both. There is a thin layer of grubbiness on Uh Huh Her which will secretly delight fans who were perhaps disappointed by the professional gloss of Stories... But this album certainly isn't as raw as Dry or Rid of Me. It would appear that the vitriolic rant, a recurring theme in her earlier albums, isn't one she's about to return to. The closest we get is "Who the F***?" - a vicious diatribe against (wait for it) her hairdresser. This is sung with such consummate glee that it positively sticks a tongue out at the younger Polly who, I expect, didn't even have a hairdresser.
First single "The Letter" and opener, "The Life and Death of Mr Badmouth" are basically missing tracks from Stories. However, Polly is still experimenting with musical styles, particularly with a number of wonderfully subtle lo-fi tracks towards the end of the album.
It's sad to say it, but Polly's (frankly awe-inspiring) musical ability does seem to impress all the more when it's tinged with melancholy.
"You Come Through" and "Seagulls" are beautifully understated in a way that wouldn't usually be associated with Harvey's dark, brooding blues. "The Slow Drug" with its electronic, hypnotic feeling of impending doom is made more disturbing by the fact that this doom never materialises and the song simply fades out.
There are now many artists who are so obviously influenced by Harvey (The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kills to name just two), that it's easy to forget how groundbreaking Polly has been. This album still isn't as stark or challenging as her early material, but her own personal musical development is still very much ahead of its time.
She remains a vital force to be reckoned with. --Kate Lawrence
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‘Stories from the city, stories from the sea’ (the critically acclaimed album that preceded this one) had long been on my Wish list after a friend’s recommendation, but before I saw what P J and her music were all about I was hesitant to buy before sampling and when I finally saw her perform…I was both relieved and regretful that I had waited- relieved because the taster-tracks she performed were very much my taste in music (and from what I’ve heard her previous album differs wildly from this latest offering) and regretful because I’d not been aware until now just how much of a musically exceptional and personally charismatic talent Harvey truly was.
“The Letter,” “Shame” and ‘Who the f**k?” were the tracks I was lucky enough to catch not just being sung, but embodied by Harvey and then catapulted from her soul into the studio. And luckily…the rest of the album is just as powerful as her performance of those three songs on that occasion- crammed with more of the same raw energy and conviction.Read more ›
After this two minute offering though, it seems Harvey's aggression has been spent. Most of the album is minimalist, striking a balance between blues and folk, but the narrator is never content. Subversion, stolen innocence and poetic justice are all touched upon here (The Pocket Knife sees Harvey as a reluctant bride-to-be) Tracks such as You Come Through and one-minute instrumental The End also introduce a marine sound to her music (revisiting her youth perhaps), not forgetting Seagulls (a brief track of, well, seagull noises). The overall sound swings between delicate and dark, (It's You trembles under a crunchy guitar but the song never rises above a weary groan).
Harvey has created an album which touches upon moments from her entire career, and at the same time has managed to push her sound in a direction which offers the album its own individuality. Nowhere before the acoustic folk of The Desparate Kingdom of Love has Harvey sounded so learned. Johnny Cash would be proud.
But we already have a "Rid Of Me", and Polly has never been one to tire us with remakes of albums. Most tracks sound uneasy at first, but give "Uh Huh Her" a few listens, and you'll find there's no other music you want to play.
The Life & Death Of Mr Badmouth is a slow but intense, growling rocker, and Polly sounds creepier than ever alongside a dirty guitar riff on It's You. Cat On The Wall and Who The F***? are delightfully black and rollicking but not in a way P J Harvey has been before. Pocket Knife is intriguingly understated and Shame is just amazingly involving. Even the more mellows tracks that I found difficult on first listens - The Slow Drug, The Darker Days Of Me And Him, and You Come Through - are completely captivating once they've taken hold.
Those that have all of P J Harvey's albums will know that they are vastly different from each other. "Uh Huh Her" follows suit but is no less genius. It's just understated genius.