Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
an overly arty album with some good moments
on 26 June 2001
the first thing you notice about this collaboration with multi-instrumentalist John Parish is the music's self-consciously difficult aspect, which gets irritating by about the fourth track. Parish is a versatile guitarist, however, and has some interesting ideas - check the first main song "Rope Bridge Crossing", which, when you get past Peej's spoken word poetry, is actually a good song. Also good is the stripped back folkiness of "That Was My Veil". She sings beautifully up against the acoustic track, but the song bizarrely descends into Mariah Carey-esque wailing, which Polly doesn't pull off. Songs like "Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil" take repeated listens to yield their considerable charms, while others "Urn with dead flowers..." are just lumpen, pretentious dirges. There are other good moments though. The twisted fairground of "Is That All There Is", and "Heela's" rolling bassline both hit the spot. "Taut" is interesting; squealing guitars, urgently whispered vocals and a chorus that wails 'Jeeeeesus save me'. When the clattering, random drums kick in and Peej urges 'Can I tell you something?' the track kind of makes you feel sick, which is impressive, but the track teeters between being genuinely scary and just ludicrous. The best song is "Civil War Correspndent" where Peej's voice builds from gentle entreaty to a gravelly intensity over a plaintive organ part and heartbeat drumbeat, becoming the album's most powerful moment. "Dance Hall at Louse Point" is both musically and lyrically more complex than Harveys solo work, which is ultimately the albums downfall, as this often translates into a lack of focus and an overt drive at pretentious experimentalism.