This is classic rough and ready PJ at her best. You are either gonna love this or hate it. If you have had a bad day/week or year then bung this on and kick a chair over. If everything is cool and rosey in your life then your wasting your time with this, go and buy some Justin Bieber.
Even though I've had this album for over six years, I had to take this opportunity to try to express how amazing it is. It would be easy to dismiss this album as 'angry chick rock,' but what a mistake that would be! Yes, this album is about relationships with men... about passion and longing and desire and pain and obsession, in almost every context, expressed in so many different ways, from the sublime to the down-and-dirty. The genius of the album lies in its cohesiveness. It is one of those rare works that must be listened to from beginning to end. Rather than a collection of songs, it is an experience that must be heard to be believed.
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.
Polly Jean Harvey's 1995 album To Bring You My Love remains my favourite album by this most eclectic of all female music artists. Mixing elements of blues, rock, jazz, folk, grunge - you name it, it's here - this album just edges Uh Huh Her (another brilliantly diverse work) in terms of the quality of the songs and also wins over more recent (and excellent) albums White Chalk and Let England Shake (the latter which I consider to be slightly overrated).
From the gradual build-up of the ominous and unsettling bass riff that underpins the album's classic title track opener through to the beautiful fadeout on The Dancer, the album's mesmeric closing song, To Bring You My Love provides a stunning display of musical inventiveness and power. This fact is all the more remarkable given that Ms Harvey herself contributes so much to the playing, trying her hand at guitar, piano, organ, vibes, marimba and various items of percussion. Able support is also provided by regular (and long-term) collaborator John Parish (drums, guitar) and Joe Gore (guitar).
Peppering the songs with vocals at various times sneering, whispering, shouting and crooning, and reminiscent, in terms of phrasing, of a whole range of vocalists, including Nick Cave, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith and (I think I heard) even Jayne Casey (from legendary 1970s punk bands Big In Japan and Pink Military). Songwise, obviously the title song is difficult to beat. The downbeat, but outstanding, Working For The Man sees PJ providing different vocal tracks, variously talking and singing, whilst Long Snake Moan is a full-on attack on the senses, with screaming vocals ('It's my voodoo working!') and Messrs. Parish, Gore and Mick Harvey (bass) providing a filled out backing sound. More restrained, but totally compelling, PJ reaches new heights with the vocals on C'mon Billy, Teclo and Down By The Water. But, for me, probably the finest two songs on the album are the last two - Send His Love To Me and The Dancer, both characterised by Harvey's haunting vocals (where she really does sound a lot like the great Patti Smith) and the religious imagery conjured up by the lyrics.