18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Fun for all the family,
By A Customer
This review is from: Dance Hall At Louse Point (Audio CD)
Dance Hall at Louse Point is probably the most underrated, misunderstood and little-heard item in the whole Polly Jean Harvey catalogue. Upon its low-key release it was overlooked by many Peej lovers who assumed it was merely a minor collaboration with some obscure bloke. I won’t pretend to be an expert on her less famous co-writer and co-producer here, John Parish, although I know he played on two of her own albums and has also produced records by Eels, Sparklehorse and Giant Sand. On this album he wrote and played all the music, she sang and wrote the lyrics. While it’s not a full PJ Harvey album per se, Dance Hall at Louse Point still constitutes some of her most daring, challenging and adventurous work to date.
The musical core of this collaboration is swampy, sweaty delta blues, but it also manages to incorporate elements of folk, goth, free jazz and lo-fi electronica into the mix. Twangy bottleneck guitars, twinkly atmospherics and creepy church organ are the order of the day. Parish’s stark, ambient soundscapes are the perfect foundation for PJ’s unique vocal experiments – she doesn’t simply sing these songs, she acts them out in full diva style. On tracks like City of No Sun, Urn With Dead Flowers in a Drained Pool or the extraordinary Taut, she howls in a screeching falsetto that’s scary enough to raise the dead; it’s at once painful and exhilarating to behold. Rope Bridge Crossing is my favourite song on the album – a hauntingly powerful, impassioned dream sequence where Harvey’s spoken-word poetry and vivid imagery meet their match in Parish’s drawling, stuttering guitar blues. That Was My Veil is a gorgeous, heartbreaking acoustic ballad without a trace of sentimentality. Civil War Correspondent is a hushed, mournful dirge of almost religious force; it rolls past like a stately funeral procession. Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil is a beautiful stream of dreamy, ambient reverb.
I fully agree with the scottmoose78. This one is a difficult listen that takes time to sink its claws in and bears numerous rewards for those who are patient enough. At first I didn’t quite know what to make of this project, but now I find it spellbinding. Don’t foolishly dismiss this album because it doesn’t meet your expectations on a first listen. It’s a hidden gem well worth exploring.