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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 21 August 2015
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on 16 June 2004
As a fan that discovered PJ through ‘Stories’, throughout her catalogue I’ve been continually blown away; Her refreshing interpretation of the blues on ROM & Demos, the elegance of TBYML, the bewitching innovativness of ITD?, & the boisterous passion of Stories. On this release shes not repeated, but incorporated elements from each, playing most instruments, recording & producing from home. A slight return to the ITD?, although a far cry from its complex layers. Instead Polly offers an intimate autobiographical affair, containing lyrics of a candid personal nature. Similarities to Stories- relartionships etc, although this time round there is a sense of sorrow that permeates throughout the ‘ballads’, a ‘come down’ from the elation expressed on that record. Themes such as dependency & commitment, friendship, & a glimpse into her childhood, are interspersed between a few growling rockers and backed by some glistening harmonies..
1/ TL&TOMBM stomps away with understated vocals lending a sense of darkness, opening to a sumptuous chorus before returning to heavy fuzzed out bass- dark n heavy. Gentle vocals ensure a certain creepiness.
2/ SHAME; Gorgeous harmony against a hypnotic drum pattern & bass. “ I don’t need no risin’ moon, I don’t need no ball & chain, I don’t need anything but you..” an accordian in the ‘distance’ ensures a sad beauty with the kind of vocal delivery that stops it from being a cliché. Sad/ romantic @ same time.
3/ WTF**K? fuses typical corrosive blues punk riffs (Demos/ROM), against taut ‘break beat’ style drums; a cheeky humorous attempt with improvisational clapping ala Demos. “Who the f**k d’you think you are, get out of my hair.. im not like other girls.. you cant straighten my curls..” Unfortunately lacks the lyrical wit & charm evident in the likes of ‘Easy’ or ‘Reelin’, & seems desperately self concious in its attempt to ‘rock out’, as a result sees one of the weakest PJH tracks to date! (the accompanying video included on this disc).
4/ PKNIFE; Intro- acoustic strumming, tambourine & percussion. VAGUELY reminiscent of the flamenco inflected TBYML. “Please don’t make my wedding dress, im too young too marry yet, how the world slips by so fast..” A reflection of her age & its expectations? Youthfull distance & time ‘sliping by’ presents itself subtly throughout this album..
5/ THE LETTER; Bass heavy riffs again- dark sleazy blues & ‘taut’ drumming, is one of the strongest arrangements- Intriguing with an apocalyptic chorus that sees polly wailing with life depending urgency…”ohhhhhhhhhh baabeeyyyyy”..
6/ TSDRUG; Opens with keyboard style ‘strings effect’, that sounds like the intro to a dance track! BUT FEAR NOT, this short shimmering sad beauty with its simple harmonies, doesn’t build to any precicatble chorus’- keeps a simple format (verse verse verse). Vocals at front of mix enhance intimacy, (hissing & breathiness). “..love the drug im feelin, got to keep this feeling, could you be my calling?..” ‘Blissed out lyrics- the perfect accompaniment.
7/ NCOMINE; acoustic ballad SLIGHTLY similar to Cmon Billy minus the intense vocal delivery; very short / lukewarm.
8/ COTWALL; strongest rocker here in an unapologisingly fun way not heard from Polly before! Distorted & bass heavy is accompanied by a recorder!! - Infectious garage rock, nothing angst ridden & it works!. “They play the radio in my dreams, takes me back to when I was 17, dancing in circles on the kitchen floor, I play that song till I cant take anymore!” Theres a sense if nostalgia & youthfull exuberance which im personally loving..
9/ YCTHROUGH ; Dreamy ambience built on percussion, glockenshpiel(?), accordian & strings; builds to an understated crecendo..& has a sincerity that sparks of the belief in friendship. LOVELY.
10/ ITS YOU; ITD? Territory; piano & drum pattern intros before dirty bluesy bass heavy riff, (very sexy) leads the way.- Compenstates for the ‘unsophisticated’ lyrics, “..my dreams are so very dark, I dream of my hair just fallin out..” not of the caliber of The Garden or The River.
11/ THE END; ‘atmospheric interval’; acoustic strumming backing a teary folky accordian- is ‘made for’ Vincent Gallo.. frankly I wish she’d just outright given it to him instead. Necessary?
12/ TDKOF LOVE; Somber minimal acoustc melody, reminds me of Cohens folk songs. Whilst charming still lacks impact.
13/ SEAGULLS; .just when the album sorely needs a stick of dynamite up it’s ar*e, another ‘interval’ - seagulls with background hush of the sea. What else to say…?
14/ TDDOM&HIM; Welcome respite & fitting closure; Initially conjures up an ‘Eastern’ feel, followed by pretty acoustic melody, “Promises promises, im feelin burned, you taught me a lesson, I didn’t wanna learn..” Sorrow & hurt evident again. The ‘distant’ backing vocals coupled with ambient effects becomes a dreamy psychadellic presence, sums up the sense of dissapointment with regards to love constant throughout..
This work, whilst reflecting where PJ is at present, does point to a possible self conscious response to prove her ‘non commercalism’, which is what I fear may at least be partly evident on ‘Who The F**k’. It seems of importance to PJ that her audience has some insight into the thought processes behind this album, with the inclusion of a large series of revealing self portraits & notes made whilst recording; “Too normal? Too PJH?” / “If struggling with a song drop out the thing you like” / “Pop hit- uh oh”/ perhaps she overworked the process?
As a HUGE fan, I hardly revel in stating that this (by Pollys standards), is average. Long time fans will be divided, but I recommend you take the risk as you’ll most likely appreciate at least 1/2 of whats here. I have enormous faith in PJ- 5 masterpieces in a row & one average is still a hell of a track record. Indeed id’ve prefered to hear something ‘completely new’, but for now im settling in to enjoy the finer moments of this, possibly Polly Jeans most soul bearing album to date, as she “tells you about her bfief history”.
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on 14 August 2006
I'm so glad I've been introduced to this womean's music! It rules!!!!!! It took me a couple of lessons to get it because she is so unique- but now I'm addicted!!!
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on 7 June 2004
Those who loved the slick, formulaic commercial pabulum of "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" might be disappointed by this return to the unique form of early PJ Harvey. This new work is similar to the Dry album period, but also tempered by a simmering garage-rock/folk sensibility, not unlike early Cowboy Junkies. The music is the simple bluesy post punk rock style we had come to love from PJ Harvey before she went corporate pop. And it is probably her best.
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on 4 August 2016
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on 22 December 2015
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on 10 April 2017
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on 31 May 2004
Well, to be sincere this album has disappointed me, there is nothing new on it.
Polly has not create nothing new, and the lyrics are not that kind, that type of songs that touch your soul.
It seems just an album to be done, with no expectations about her work.
Theres nothing on it, it is empty.
By now, this is my opinion, I have to listen to more times, but as I say before it was a disappointment to me this album, and it is not cheap to play with us!!!
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on 31 May 2004
I have to agree with the reviewer from Istanbul. If anything this album illustrates what a classic "Stories from..." was. Now it's back to the lo-fi musings of the first PJ albums. Fans of early PJ will call it a return to form but I preferred the songs on a broader scale and canvas from "Stories".
It's not a bad album; it's just nowhere near as good as the previous one.
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on 20 May 2004
this album was brilliant, classic pj harvey , which i love. but she isnt really pushing ne more musical boundries than she previously has done. but thats fine with me, shes amazing!
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