PJ Harvey

Bitter woman with a mustache
*special introductory paragraph!
*Rid Of Me
*4-Track Demos
*To Bring You My Love
*Dance Hall At Louse Point (with John Parish)
*Is This Desire?
*Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
*Uh Huh Her
*The Peel Sessions 1991-2004
*White Chalk
*A Woman A Man Walked By (with John Parish)
*Let England Shake

PJ Harvey started the 90s as a bitter alternative woman with lots of guitars and ended the decade as a sad alternative woman with smooth sad music. A guy sent me an email saying, "You should review PJ Harvey!" and I'm all like "I don't like PJ Harvey," and he's all like "If I mail you all her albums, will you review her?" and I'm all like "Whatever" so he sends me her whole discography on money-saving cassette tape! I don't do that sort of thing anymore though. Why review lousy music when I can review The Hombres?

Reader Comments

Q: How do you tell the difference between Fiona Apple, Tori Amos & PJ Harvey?
A: The size of their moustaches.

Dry - Island 1992
Rating = 4

Am I crazy or is this the Jankly-est record ever recorded? Every time I listen to it, I think "Jankly!" JANKLY JANKLY JANKLY!

On the other hand, it's also full of bland simplistic melodies and saturated with an unpleasant mood of bitterness. Must she sing everything like a nagging old British school marm threatening to crack your knuckles with a ruler?

And I ain't talkin' 'bout Louis XIV!


Speaking of which, I've always thought it a shame that CRASS didn't record that single. I just love the idea of a b-side entitled "Well? Do They?"


Musically, the guitars do some surprisingly neat things every once in a while, bottlenecking and skranking out some neat distorted ash noise. But not nearly often enough. Most of the time, there's just a cliched rhythm part failing to fill up a dreadfully empty aural space, topped with PJ complaining about this or that. And when the band tries to "rock out," they sound stupid, slow and wimpy.

And OH! The overdrama. If you thought girls got over that self-important angst stage once they made it to college and started drinking beer, then you haven't met Polly Harvey '92. Every single song is SO overserious and SO brutally, painfully "important" that you just want to air-strangle her with your bare air-hands. The song "Hair" is almost playful, and I honest to God enjoy the heck out of the Breedersy "Oh My Lover" and slide-guitarified "Happy And Bleeding," but the rest wallow in complaints and insipid little half-riffs.

The Spin Alternative Record Guide, however, gives it an 8 and says that, "Moaning, yowling, straining into a falsetto and then plunging toward an open-throated yell, Harvey uses the natural breadth of her voice to go beyond the singer's usual palette."

Say, did I mention how ugly and annoying it is when Polly does all this stupid over-emotional crap with her voice?

Reader Comments

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)

The storied first chuck. You see, back in good ole '92, music execs weren't lining up on the doorsteps of folksy, cute, pretentious acoustic females, which, for better or worse, made women work really damn hard to get a record deal (I'm not sexist;I think they should start doing that for guys too. I mean, Eve 6? Matchbox 20? What the hell? Is this music really necessary?). Listening to brilliant pop/punk/gristle gems like "Dress" and "Happy and Bleeding", it's quite obvious that Polly and her band are something special. There's also a light-heartedness here that kind of gets thrown away on scabrous lizards like the forthcoming album. Some songs even approach radio-ready status.

Overall, just be assured that this isn't one of those "growing" or "transitional" albums that so many bands fancy to have for their first disc. Straight up, this record kicks ass. The only complaints are that some songs are forgettable ("Victory") or even altogether poor (the shitty-as-fuck "Plants and Rags" is probably Polly's worst song ever). But I'll forgive her that for songs like "Sheela-Na-Gig". Goddamn, what a chorus in that one. And, also noteworthy is the fact that Polly sings AND plays guitar at the same time, a process that usually results in either lackluster vox or boring guitar. Make no mistake; she can shred the fuck out of a gitt.

ZINETHOUGHTS@prodigy.net (Muffins)
Ahhh, PJ Harvey...the goddess of one of my ex-teachers. Not a HUGE commercial success, unfortunately (or is that fortunately?), but much more worthy than most of those women who are on top (of the charts :) now. I have nothing against Alanis, but PJ blows her out of the water. Unlike Coutrney Love, she doesn't sing like Kurt Cobain and rely on shock tactics to surprise people. And Shirley Manson from Garbage just wishes that she could sing like PJ. I won't even get begin talking about Jewel...

DRY is undoubtedly one of the best rock records of the early 1990s. I don't think the production's that great, but it does convey an overall darkness that was obvious intentional. This is PJ when PJ Harvey was a band, and the drummer was absolutely amazing - how off the wall can you get in a rock song, man? This is PJ at her most impassioned, and songs like "Oh My Lover," "Happy and Bleeding" and "Plants and Rags," while not necessarily as catchy as some of the other songs, pack an incredible emotional punch. Enough witht he cliches...

I'm not sure how you like dry more then rid of me, I personally would give dry a 4/10, it is o. k and I love "plants and rags" it is so creepy. In my opinion P.J Harvey's worst album.

Xspex27@aol.com (James Mohr)
I don't get her either. I got this for 50 cents and listened to 3/4 of it with an open mind before realizing it just wasn't gonna get any better. Why people think this kind of music is good is beyond me.

Have you found a new job yet? Some nights, I worry so much about you that I can't sleep (especially the nights were I've done a lot of coke).

Often times, I can see where you're coming from in any given review, even if I think you're as wrong as hell (an admirable critical trait that you share with Robert Christgau, for my money). Having said that, how you can deem "Dry" only a four, whist giving the massively over-hyped and overrated "To Bring You My Love" an eight is just beyond me. This record is, at it's best, truly visceral and catchy, to boot! I know that you dislike whiny, melodramatic females (reference your Tori Amos reviews, which I concur with completely), but this album is creative, tuneful, and mixed waaay too damn low (I have to crank up my car stereo to about 20 just to hear most of it on the freeway).

One other thing - this album is a rhythmic dynamo, in every sense. In some ways, I thank Robert Ellis more than Harvey for the success of this album. His drumming is - and this is not hyperbole - almost Elvin Jones like in its use of polyrhythms. And, lest that sound too much like musician-speak bullshit, the bottom line is that he rocks the tunes into next week. I'm no drummer, but I can't help but state that every drummer in the world should own this. Hell, I own it, and I'm no drummer!

In some ways, this is still my favorite Harvey record, though "Stories" and "Rid of Me" have their very specific charms. Actually, the new one's kinda good, too - review that one soon.

Very good. Not bitter at all. She likes dark humor and writes some mighty lyrics on this one. Her songwriting was strong from the start. 7/10

This was the first album in the 90s woman orgy album night a few nights back. Better than Thoras Amos Shitmos worse than BJUCK.

PJ Harvey, she looks like a man, she holds her guitar like a man, but she's a pounding womanflesh. Hey now! She is only a manlook in the sometimes, and i'm about the FUNTIMES.

There is one good song, the one where she goes GO GO GO GO! GOOOOOO! GO GO GO GO! Open wide PRINCESS, here comes my SACK!

There is a ROCK N ROLL GIRL in Japan who we gave the nickname PJAPAN HARVEY, because she looks like PJ HARVEY but with JAPANESE GIRL EYES. She is better looking and sounding than PJENGLAND HARVEY, she is going to give her a great big snog, it's going to be exciting. JAPAN FUCKING SUCKS. ENGLAND SUCKS. WE ARE THE MISFITS!

Dunia Fadel
I would have gone all defensive offensive on you for your "worthless piece of shit" remark but you just had to go and put a "Crass" joke in there to soften us up didn't ya?!

I love how you called this overrated when it's actually SFTCSFTS that was overrated (BECAUSE OF THOM YORKE THE BASTARD WHO BROUGHT A BUNCH OF PUSSY FANS WITH HIM!!) heck, White Chalk was overrated, but Dry...so underrated.

Call me sexist, but I stand with my opinion that the male race will never understand PJ Harvey like a woman can. To men, she reminds them of their naggy wives or psycho ex-girlfriends who tried to rip their hearts out with their bare teeth back in college (or is that just me?). But to women, she's venting for them. OK, so she's eerie sometimes, her songs can boarder on psychotic and dark and just plain uncanny, but who cares? She's screeching and yelling and insulting everything I want to screech and yell and insult. I wouldn't call PJ bitter, because she has some sweet love songs (!), but this album as a whole really is sort of acidic...but in a good way, because we all need bitter albums for those bittersweet occasions.

Lyrically, this is PJ baring her sole to you, musically, I admit, it's lacking and would have been 10x better with better production because it's missing those awesome hooks, missing those guitar jams that take a song to its climax.

However, I'll never agree with you that her voice is annoying (except for Joe, I don't like Joe much at all except for the guitar and drum solo at the end, I usually skip over this track >.<). Her voice is magical; every range gives me the goosebumps.

P D Bendix
There's a fair sprinkling of dark humor found in the songs on DRY, which perhaps you missed. For example in Sheels Na Gig, PJ sings 'Keep your dirty pillows away from me'. Do you know what she's referring to? It ain't pillow talk In the same song she declares 'I'm going to take my hips to a man that cares'. Any female that can write a defiantly amusing line like that is worthy of attention. Her song 'Dress' is superbly written lyrically with lines that are desperately sad yet humorous from both female and male perspective.You have tutally got it wrong about Polly being over-serious. That came much later (about 15 yrs on) Here she's angry alright, but all of her songs around that time are delivered with a tongue-in-cheek spirit. I think you've missed a trick or two.

PJ was possibly the first woman to play the guitar in that heavy, grungy way, normally associated with males and which certainly caught the attention of Kurt Cobain and others at the time. She was unique right from the get-go.

Add your thoughts?

Rid Of Me - Island 1993
Rating = 3

This album be suckin' a lollipop like KOZAK, man! Remember Telly Savalas as KOZAK??? Back in the 1975s? When we were a younger gentler nation with fewer iPods? Bring back KOZAK!!! I loved that bald lickable tangerine head!

Even more bitter and less interesting than the last one (but with the same empty dry production sound), Rid Of Me asks that musical question, "Why on Earth did so many critics love this album so much?" It features a lot of laughably pained "orgasmic" moaning and groaning but very VERY little in the way of any riff you haven't heard by a million shitty opening acts before. In fact, more than anything else, that's exactly what this sounds like - the work of a shitty opening act that plays and plays and plays while you wait outside the club for a good, creative band with something musically interesting to say to come onstage. Polly Harvey used to insist that "PJ Harvey" was a band. If this was the case, PJ Harvey was a miserable excuse for a band that did not by any stretch of the imagination deserve a record contract. The songs reek of anger while still sounding wimpy, bleed ulcers of pissedoffness while not providing any catharsis, and scream moans of womanly issues into your ear while providing nothing worthwhile AT ALL to listen to.

Spin Alternative Record Guide, on the other hand, gave it a 10 out of 10. Because it's so great.

Reader Comments

What's there to "get" anyway? There's plenty of Tori Amos records out there for everyone to buy if rock and roll music written with some passion isn't your thing, kool thing. As far as every single song being "overserious," I guess it was wrong of me to chuckle when Polly states "it's hard to walk in a dress, it's not easy." I'll start laughing my ass off next time I hear Tori ask why we all crucify ourselves.

I'll even go as far as to say I can understand why people, especially men since we're talking about wing wongs and kitty lips, don't dig it when Polly starts her vocal wailings. I remember being about fifteen and asking my old man "What the hell is this shit?!" once when he was crankin' out some old Howlin Wolf tunes on the hi-fi. I just didn't get the whole creepy moanin' shit until I got old enough to understand that his voice was heavier than anything Leslie West could dish out on his Les Paul. By the way, what the fuck were we talking about? Oh yeah, how a few white boys don't dig P.J. Harvey. Sorry about that, I got sidetracked just thinking about that nifty little guitar intro that West did at the beginning of "Mississippi Queen." The cowbell thing counting the song off was pretty cool too. I'm giving Dry an eight, and if anyone can point me to the store where they're selling copies of it for fifty cents a pop, I'll take a case of 'em.

Ouch, this hurts. Look me in the eye and tell me this is well recorded. You cannot listen to this in the car, in the bath, on headphones, on the head, giving head, getting head, on the radio, on an expensive stereo, on the stereo we got. Its shite, its bullshay, its so annoying, we're down to playing it just for fun. We have a Breeders Title T.K. night and also bring this out. The jangly guitar intro, then breathy, moany vocals, then the band (and I use the term loosely) comes in, its all to much. I'm sure Stevieboy didn't get paid for this. Umm theres a thought, imagine Steve at the mixing desk, P.J at the mic, Steve gives P.J the thumbs up, P.J starts moaning, Steve looks at P.J, P.J looks at Steve, Stevie looks at Polly, shes moaning, Stevie's skinny white arse, Polly's skinny white arse, hay what the...some strange woman (my girlfriend) has a water pistol (loaded) to my head and is threatening to use it, if I send this. What do I do? Caught between personal injury (water damage) and my strong musical beliefs. O.K. there are good songs here, trying to get out. Polly is capable, see "To bring you my love". I have liked P.J. alot

Comment: Not to be played. (I can't write that) Maybe grab a pillow and rock back and forward while sitting on the floor, this scares small children (I can't write that either) Play songs 1,2,4 (and if you last through them) 11

My rating is the Steve lets make everything sound as thin as possible Albini bummed up of 4's (1 point per good song)

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)

I have never heard anything like this album. The most punishing hardcore, the noisiest avant-garde record, the grungiest Mudhoney album, etc., never reached the noisy, dirty plateau that this particular slab o' vinyl contains. This is probably due to Steve Albini's god-like production; I have yet to hear a bad album produced by this guy (well, unless you count that Bush fiasco). He makes a snare hit sound like a fucking rifle blast from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, every chord struck sound like a hurricane.

Of course, all this recording crap would all be for naught if the songs encapsuled weren't among the most horrifying, direct rock songs ever written. Literally, this thing hit me like a 5 ton Mac truck the first time I heard it. The Bob Dylan cover nearly out-creeps the Man himself, the two "Man-Size"'s are more skin-crawling than any Goth song in existence, and the opening song, "Rid Of Me" is probably her most famous due to the refrain, "Don't you wish you never/Never met her". Have you seen pictures of Polly? She's like five feet tall! How the hell does she create this Satanic racket? I guess we'll never know because she play's trip-hop now (but that's a matter we'll get to later), but Bejesus, what a record. Uncle Zackie recommends that you pick it up today at your nearest Peaches or whatever.

ZINETHOUGHTS@prodigy.net (Muffins)
RID OF ME is definitely a let-down. Steve Albini can fuck up any recording; he has to be the dumbest producer. I'd just use a 4-track if I wanted my record to sound like that. And the mixing on this album sucks hard. Most of the songs sound better with just PJ singing and playing guitar, as heard on...

hijinks@utarlg.uta.edu (Thomas Rickert)
I like this lots. Good review, you nailed it. A scary, scabrous record. Like peeling scabs and trying to convey that through music. If the blues ever evolved, which is totally doubtful given the fact that all who aspire to play the blues want to sound like everyone else, this is one road that would be taken.

The is a fantastic album. The combination of PJ's extraordinary guitar playing and the way Steve Albini thrusts it right to the forefront of the mix marks PJ out as the '90s true successor to past blues greats, instead of trad-musos traditionalists like Clapton.

Your introduction [Zach's original intro -ed] accusses her of 'taking herself WAAAAAY too seriously'. It's a complaint she's heard often, and has routinely claimed that it's a false impression arising from the fact that people often miss the humour in her work. The evidence to back that up is all over this album, particularly on tracks like 'Me-Jane' and 'Snake' (both amusing takes on her usual concerns), and even 'Rub 'Til It Bleeds', '50ft Queenie' and 'Man-Sized'. She does make serious music but there's a lot of humour in it too. Equally, although others have tried to suggest she's some sort of feminist spokeswoman she insists her songs are essentially personal. Ofcourse, that she's finds herself in that position just shows how few serious, lucid women we have in alt-rock. If critics tried to present any given male alt-rock star as telling us how men think about relationships, sex etc. it would seem ridiculous, but they're all too keen to case PJ as Everywoman.

errado@dipnoi.com (Bernardo Pacheco)
God, man, how many times did you listen to this before reviewing it? Two? Everyone should ignore Prindle and get this album, it's worlds above everything else she did. Losing the band was a dumb move. The album was recorded by Steve Albini, btw.

I think that rid of me is a fine album, most of the songs are really good, it is no to bring you my love but still great.


yep. this album sucks harder than a black hole on steroids. i bought it in a second hand store for a dollar (whoa!), brought it home, listened to it - all the way thru...almost. taking it off after the 3rd or 8th song because it was unbearable. then sat the gnarly whiner of a pms cycle in a dark corner where it seemed to get better with repeated UNLISTENINGS.

...i kept reading reviews from usually amazing sources that glowed and glistened and i thought: do i own the same album? so i'd try again. a little deeper, harder, faster!!! nothing worked, except putting it in the dark corner again...watching it fester or something.

but these reviews! better and better. bandwagonesque-ish? "porno-production-of-sleaze-girl-blues-angst-perfectly-realized! forced-sodomized-listener-on-substandard-guitar-freakout" - "accomplished-manhater-deifies-female-impotence-in world-of-male-rock"! "albini-muddies-up-the-blind-frustration-of-a-woman-on-the-edge!!!" whatever dudes. it sucks. you never play it. not in the car. not washing the cat. or on the stereo, sure as hell not on the headphones. Ever.

but it looks great in print! and it has that incomprehensible allure of being something that's supposed to be REAL COOL cause it's so lousy that it makes you look like an extremely informed critics buddy or some other elitist. the in-crowd of white noise appreciation.

after the 10th time trying to find a context for this album OUTSIDE OF WHAT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE. i resold it, got 5 bucks for it and the words and wails that mostly just yelled to me how pissed off she was that DRY got any kind of acclaim - - - left my life forever. RID of ME indeed. 1 star.

Dry? -7 stars
To Bring You My Love? 9 stars

Fuck Spin and those who subscribe to it. I'll take dad's beaver shots any day of the week over that shit and I'll take this album over any that Polly's done, with "Dry" a close second. And anyone who has the balls to call Albini a producer should stand clear of him if he offers to light your cigarette: He uses a blowtorch. In the studio, he uses vintage mics and magnetic tape, just the way papa Sam Phillips recorded el pees back in the day. It's 1993 folks, and what got everyone's attention in the mainstream press was the fact that the last time we heard someone without testicles bitch, moan, and yell with this much vitriol was when Chrissie declared she wasn't the kind she used to be. Meanwhile, around that same time, Exene was chirpin' about the "burnin' house of love." Whatever. Polly just fucking blows the house up.

My point is, we had reached an era of music in which there was a huge void for females around this time who actually strapped on some machismo and reminded us that rock has relatively little to do with male genetalia. Then the douchebags at Rolling Stone and Spin start taking notice and then praise it hoping that they've fooled you with the idea that they "broke" the artist into the mainstream. And this is by far a mainstream record. Sure, the music is so basic that even I learned the guitar part for "Missed" in about two minutes, and that's saying something especially if you've ever heard me "play" guitar. But isn't that what rock music is all about in the first place? So don't give me this jive about this album not being musically challenging: neither was a lot of Howlin Wolf's shit. What both Howling Wolf and Polly Harvey have in common (at least on this release) is the unbelievable dynamics of the music, how even the most simplistic musicianship sometimes kicks the shit out of virtuosity and the passion of their respective lyrical subject matter. The biggest difference, of course, is that The Wolf just wants to fuck while Polly is tired of getting fucked over. A perfect ten for those of us who get it and for those who disagree, sit down and watch those old Happy Days episodes featuring Leather Tuscadero rocking your balls off.

a big freakin' WHATEVER to anyone who has anything bad to say about this album. this is rock in the RAW! if you can't feel it in your guts and bones then there is something seriously wrong with you. granted i'm not exactly a rock fan and listen to a lot of other stuff like hip hop and various electronic genres. but of the rock i do enjoy i put this album in my top 10. up there with Danzig, the Birthday Party or early Bad Seeds and even Neil Young w/Crazy Horse. who cares what Rolling Stone or NME said or says about it? i sure as hell don't read those things and they have no influence over my opinion. Rid of Me is what your music teacher meant when they said "once more WITH FEELING." x11

never listened to PJ Harvey until a couple days ago. I like this album. It's vicious, tired, raw, and furious. With emphasis on raw. This is one...raw...album. Not as raw as Flipper, obviously, but then nothing is. I don't get why you don't like this, Mark, or rather, loathe it with such passion. There are things that are unlikable about it (some of the songs just ain't too great, the bassist either got fucked over in the mix or just sucked a nut, cause you can barely hear him at ALL, the tempos are pretty draggy at times, Polly Jean's vocals are, on occasion, hideously grating, forced and tuneless, like on "Legs"), but it's mostly a great, incredibly pissed-off album. I give it an 8. Given the amount of sickeningly misogynist jokes on this page, though, maybe you just don't like women singing aggressively? The mustache jokes about Tori Amos and Fiona Apple I can deal with, since both of them are horrid, but I will not tolerate it about PJ Harvey. She is A) a great songwriter, B) a scorching guitarist, and C) a great singer. It's not cliched. Who was writing lyrics this viciously honest and sexually upfront in 1993? Kurt Cobain sure fucking wasn't. Answer? No one was, and no one's writing them nowadays. The riffs are mostly great (especially on "50 Ft Queenie" and "Ecstasy" - she's hell on wheels with a slide), and Polly Jean has a great scream (though, like you, I cringe whenever she starts moaning tunelessly - check most of "Legs" for that...though even that song has a really interesting percussion part in the bridge). The riff on "Hook" is just so tired and angry, and I love it. I want that guitar tone. It just drips anger and disgust. And what's this about sounding "wussy"? Christ, did you even listen to "50 Ft Queenie," "Yuri-G," "Me-Jane" or "Ecstasy"? Those songs totally rock out. You have to give this album another listen. However, there are some problems. The cover of "Highway 61 Revisited" is crappy, the trio version of "Man-Size" really isn't anything to write home about (on the other hand, the atonal string sextet version freaks the living SHIT out of me), "Legs" gets ruined by Polly's horrible vocal, and "Missed" doesn't really do all that much for me. But the rest of the songs are good-to-fantastic. Especially "50 Ft Queenie" and "Ecstasy." Those two songs are astoundingly great. I stand by my 8.


I agree with Zach. This album is rocking and amazing. I think that there are a lot of us guys who love Polly's raw style on her early records and we see it as a source of musical pleasure.I can't help but think of the guy called Dave who, on your site, said that "there's only so many variations on "this is great" that one person can handle writing", so I won't say much at all. All songs are appealing to me, I like her moaning and her raw voice and I love Steve's production. Cheers!

Add your thoughts?

4-Track Demos - Island 1993
Rating = 5

Interesting, is it not? These are Polly's demos for the songs on the first two albums, and most of the demos are better than the final versions! She still does her gruesome, disgusting moans in "Legs" and "Snake" (boy does that sound embarrassing on a 4-track!), but her guitar sounds GREAT! All kinds of nice bottleneck distorted slide drone stuff without the detriment of a wimpy rhythm section to make the tunes sound like bad indie rock. Her songs still feature too many wretched, unappealing parts, but at least it's finally clear that she can write and play some really neat original stuff. It just, in a lot of instances, failed to make the jump from solo to band material. But oh the songs on here - some are acoustic and some are electric, but there is no bass or drums and as I said, that's a good thing. It's an okay record!

The other morning my dog rolled around in a big possum carcass. He came home stinking up a blue streak, though not as much as the song "M-Bike" by PJ Harvey.

Reader Comments

ZINETHOUGHTS@prodigy.net (Muffins)
4-TRACK DEMOS. Definitely my second favorite. It's great. She does sorta sound like a man sometimes, though...

How can you find 4 track demos better then rid of me? Although some of it is funny (the ridiculously stupid background vocals of "rid of me " and the coughing in the beginning of "legs") it is just striped down versions of rid of me songs, still the songs are mostly great, 'cause P. J. Harvey is great!


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To Bring You My Love - Island 1995
Rating = 8

See, it's like I've been saying all along - PJ Harvey is talented as hell and it was only a matter of time before she finally put out a record that showed off all of her talents as a singer and songwriter, both female. The way she did this is by giving up the tired riot grrl venom and making actual MUSIC. Subdued, gentle, sad music, like a female Nick Cave or a male Tori Amos, with strong smooth production and lots of organs, violins and dance beats going on for the MTV Dance Hall Yeah! crowd. (I've been pitching a show called Dance Hall Yeah! to MTV for several seasons but to no avail because their schedule is already full of The Real World [SU-W] and Road Rules [H-SA].)

This album had a hit single that lots of people love to hate and even I used to hate it until I noticed how neat the fuzzy bass thing is. I had never even noticed it back when they used to show the video (or in fact ANY videos) on MTV, because my tinny TV speaker couldn't make room for both Polly's loud voice and the quiet little fuzzy bass thing. Eventually here I'll name the song.

Nah, fuck it. Her voice sounds great throughout, as she abandons the cocky Pat Benatar/Chrissie Hynde angerlady thing and adopts a lovely, full-bodied womanly singing voice of goodness and beauty. The mood is sad and slow even as the music does lots of turnabouts between cool organny jazz pop, dark Stones-style rock ("Meet Ze Monster"! YES!), bass/drum trance-no haus, acoustic folksiness, tremeloey electric soundscaping and blues folk, only returning to the bad style of her early work on the awful final track "The Dancer," which, from the sounds of it, may very well be a bonus track stuck on the end by a jealous Melissa Etheridge. Which reminds me of a little joke: What do Melissa Etheridge and PJ Harvey have in common?

Most of the time, they've both got big bushy patches of hair under their noses! GET IT???? DO YOU GET IT??!@?!?!??!?!?!?

Send me a couple dollars if you don't get it.

Misogyny? I hardly KNOW ogyny!!!

Reader Comments

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)

A simple, simple, simple, simple record. Good God, Polly, can ya use more than two chords in a song??? That's what you'll no doubt be wondering when songs like "Working for the Man" come on. So goddamn basic.

No matter. The songs are indescribably tense, and they're intense and powerful too. It's almost as scary as the previous one, but the horror here is all about what's NOT played; i.e. the art of subtlety, something which I generally HATE in music, but which really works here. Looking back after hearing it, you won't really remember the names of the songs or how they go. But it really is a worthwhile album. Just give it a chance. I, like you will, hated it at first but now I love it. Sorry for the boring review, but there really isn't much to say about this thing.

Oh yeah, now I remember what I could say. The watery guitar in "Working for the Man" is a revelation, and the song would suck donkey nut without it. Can you believe that Polly didn't want it in there? Somebody needs to smack that bitch up. Sorry. That was a lame attempt at humor. I'm really not sexist, nor do I promote violence upon females. Shit. I probably should have erased that, because now I can't show my mom what I wrote. Shit.

ZINETHOUGHTS@prodigy.net (Muffins)
TO BRING YOU MY LOVE is the weakes record PJ Harvey put out. It's so commerical that the title track, "Long Snake Moan," and "C'Mon Billy" cannot bring it back up to normal PJ level. It's pretty boring.

hijinks@utarlg.uta.edu (Thomas Rickert)
This record is perfect. She adopts a smattering of pop forms to her purposes, and creates a lush sort of brilliance. This record is undeniable, and probably the best place for the fainthearted to start. That opening track--what is that? Sexy, but dark, dark, and scary. Do you really want a woman like that in your bed, to reach over for in the night when you are needy? Think about it, and then think, most women have experienced the feelings she is showing us through her music. You should be scared, but most people, unfortunately, won't even think about this enough to go there, because that is a dreadful place, best left totally repressed. And then there is that keening one about a woman, deep into a relationship where the passion is gone, bringing out another kind of passion --"Billy--you still look good to me"-- one that isn't desparation, or clingingness, but is nevertheless vulnerable in a way that is so rare to hear in rock. It's like looking at one of those watery, gold-filled Klimt paintings of the older, less beautiful, but still, in a wierd, eery way, beautiful woman. A strange kind of love that is more real, more true, than all that fake passion you hear sung about over and over and nauseatingly over again in other musics.

It makes this album total genius. Should be a ten.

Oh! Oh! Oh! Pj Harvey's to bring you my love is one of my all time favorite albums of all time, from the beginning to the end it is a frightening picture of the inside of a woman, this is kinda like dear dairies from hell, it is 10 meditations on sex and religion. in my humble opinion this is a concept album about a woman's animal urges destroying her, trying to show how culture and sex cannot mix. Incredible. The lyrics are amazing and the music is minimilistic glory.


9904352O@student.gla.ac.uk (Tom Osman)
This is the only one of her albums I rate. The whole thing is superb, every song, though it certainly requires the right time for listening (I tried first thing with breakfast, but it wasn't happening) Perhapse if I was an angry woman I'd get into her earlyer stuff, but bloody hell! Rid of Me? Ugh fetch the bucket! Alot of people rave on about 'Stories from the City' as well, but it doesn't do it for me. I've not heard 'Is this Desire?' though, so perhapse I'll give that a bash, sounds like a giggle!

This Cd has touched me in a way that I have never been touched. It is amazing. I have heard music that makes me cry, and all that. But this is so much deeper. It is touching me on some primal level that I am not even conciously aware of. It is like someone is reaching down below the pit of my stomach, and playing with my organs, like my liver and kidneys, and it tickles. I just want to scream about it I love it so much. It is orgasmic, but much better than that. It is indescribeable, I have never heard anything that sounds like this album.

No one else I talk to understands the way I feel about this. I just want to scream it from the highest mountain.

I hated the CD when I first got it, but that is how I always feel about my favorite cds.

A bunch of religious crap. What an ignorant, ugly human being. If she brought me her love I would throw up for days. Please all you idiots that write lyrics out of the Middle Ages go back there immediately.

Minimalistic, astonishing, stupendous and melodic. All the songs are really strong and her voice is grandiose in all of them. This is for everyone who loves the big efforts like Ziggy and Exile and Revolver. It's just so damn good. "To Bring You My Love" are five most luscious minutes I've ever heard, "Meet Ze Monsta" is rocking as shit, "Working For The Man" is like a thriller, "C'Mon Billy" is Peej in her best blues mode, "Teclo" is the most beautiful song about longing and desire, "Long Snake Moan" is hell on guitars, "Down By The Water" is pure classic, etc, etc. Kudos Peej! 10/10

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Dance Hall At Louse Point (with John Parish) - Island 1996
Rating = 5

More like "Dance Hall At LousY ALBUM," if you ask me!!! Heh ehehhf.

All the music on this record was written by guitarist/producer John Parish, leaving PH Jarvey no responsibilities except lyrics and vocals. So don't blame her for all the wasted potential on display. And wasted? OH! The wasted. John (or "Toilet") comes up with some really nice understated guitar lines built upon odd trebly chords, but then he doesn't do a thing to develop them! The already unsteady beats constantly drop out entirely, the tempos are slower than a seven year cat's meow, and the songs just drag on and on with nothing much happening. Granted, HJ Parvey doesn't help -- her vocals range from underwhelming to fucking annoying -- but it's the drab tortoise-speed repetition of the music that kills all hope and life that dare enter here.

Some of the songs could be considered avant-garde in their musical and vocal approaches, others are more bluesy and slide guitar-centric, and still others find new and unusual ways to bore the literal waste dump out of me. Highlights include the bendy twangy smashin' slide guitar rockin' instrumental title track, cool dark blueser "Rope Bridge Crossing," sorrowful guitar/organ duet "Civil War Correspondent" and brilliant Peggy Lee cover "Is That All There Is?" Thighbites include JP 'Incorporated' Harvey wailing like a blockhead in "City Of No Sun," whispering like a dimwit in "Taut," singing far too loud like a ninny in "Lost Fun Zone" and singing the exact same notes the guitar is playing like a simpleton in "Un Cercle Autour du Soleil" (French for "The Circular Areolae Of Soleil Moon-Frye").

Christmas is coming in a few days, so here is a list of Christmas Albums I'd like to see released ASAP. Get on it, if possible:

GG Allin - Suck My Ass It Smells Like Christmas
Bad Religion - We Desiderate You A Saturnalian Yuletide (And A Convivial Neoteric 365 Days, 5 Hours, 49 Minutes, and 12 Seconds Of Mean Solar Time)
Danzig - 999: Santa Likes Nines
Iron Maiden - Olive The Other Reindeer
The Jesus Lizard - Tree
Paul McCartney - Simply Writing A Terrible Christmas Song
Ted Nugent - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Target
Slayer - Claus Illusion
Yes - We Replaced Our Singer Of Forty Years With A Guy We Found On YouTube. Ho Ho Ho!
ZZ Top - The Man With The Short White Beard

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Is This Desire? - Island 1997
Rating = 7

An apology is in order. I have been more than rude to Miss Harvey in this review. I've been mean-spirited and petty. TOM Petty, that is! Good old Tom Petty, and his songs that have entertained the world over.

On this recording, Patty Harson embraces modern stone age high technology with tons of bass `n drum pounders to dance to. Almost industrial in its fuzz-thump simplicity, the synth-filled album is dark and throbbing (Gary Coleman's penis) and vaguely reminiscent of serious pained womans like Tori Amos & Andy "Sinead" O'Connor. Whispering, piano - what is this, you'll ask - Is This Desire? Or Is This Erotica by Madonna? Only my chest surgeon knows for sure.

As I was saying, several of these songs have wickedass synth bass lines and neat electronic noises, with only a few filling that "normal" void so left behind. A gentle guitar thing here, some deep meaningful crap there, some sad pianos, and an entire bowl of pus that I mixed red dye into so you'd think it was pudding.

Reader Comments

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)

Prepare to be turned off, buddy. If you at all share a disaffection for the new "trip-hop" genre (ya know the one, where all these Ecstasy-fueled white boys act like they're visionaries just because they're mixing techno with hip-hop), then you'll listen to this album and, reactively, pinch your nose and throw your head into the toilet. To be certain, songs like "A Perfect Day Elise" and "The Sky Lit Up" are positively Portishead-ish, but in fact, the album kicks ass. Their are oodles and gobs of hooks here (something you need if you're going to make an electronica-tinged album, and something R.E.M. and Madonna could have used on their respective electronica-tinged albums), and there's still PLENTY of piano and guitar here, so it's not all Massive Attack stuff. The bottom line is, there is a saying that there's only good music and bad music, no in between. Well, my fine friends, this is a damn good album, despite a few stinkers here and there, and it deserves your due respect. Treat it as such.

ZINETHOUGHTS@prodigy.net (Muffins)
IS THIS DESIRE? is a step up, no doubt. nice use of biblical themes, sort of laid back, ranging from beauty to ugliness...it's a good record, but not in the same vein as her old records. Too many nuances, man!

And I don't think she takes as seriously as you think she does. And, even if she is guilty of it, at least she has a reason to be, unlike, say, Natalie Imbruglia or Jewel: she's got the talent.

I love when reviews make references to Gary Coleman's genitalia, but I really I think that Mark Prindle is a little gay.

I have decided that I really like P. J. Harvey's is this desire, it is a great stab at techno although not a masterwork like R.E.M's up or radiohead's kid a or disgustingly original like the fall's levitate it is still a great transformation, most bands would not have been able to pull it off, the first track is gorgeous an 8.5.

adam@eclectric.org (Adam Hammack)
This is my favorite PJ album. Like prindle, I think her first two were wildly over-rated. (I had this feminist bi-sexual dyke girlfriend in high-school that made me listen to angry riot grrl shit all the time. Trust me. They both suck pretty bad.) 'Bring You My Love' is really good, but sounds a little dated in that whole grunge-guitar way -- just not quite textured enough for me. But 'Desire', well...

This one really makes alot of sense to me stylistically. I think PJ has a very, um, haunting voice, and it really shines on the slower, more atmospheric number like the album opener and closer. Sometimes 'Desire' is a bit production happy though. There's the track (7?) where the whole song is written around this really low, really sludgey bass synth riff, but the first 20 times I listened to it were on crappy speakers and it just sounded dumb. Track 11 is too dancy (Chorus: Whoooooo-eeeuuuuhhhh!). Every once in awhile the busy synths and stuff obscure the songwriting, and I don't really care about Catherine making whale-noises or Joy never having danced (tracks 3 and 9, respectively.)

Having said all of that though, this is a very strong album by my reckoning. Even the bad one's don't stink too horribly in the context of the entire album, and the good one's are just great. There are some real classics on this one, and I'd recommend it to just about any one who likes good song-writing.)

(If I got the track #'s wrong, forgive me. I don't have the case with me.)

When I first heard Is This Desire I really hated it, I thought it was dull. But now I adore it, the opening track (?) where she sings '10,000 miles away he walks upon the road' is a moody delight. I also love 'A Perfect Day, Elise' (the first PJ item I ever bought) and The Wind.

By the way, I think your comments on her earlier work are unfair. Dry is excellant especially Dress, Sheela - Na - Gig, Plants and Rags and Fountain. 4 Track Demos is my favourite though. Legs is awesome as is Easy, Hardly Wait and 50ft Queenie. Maybe it's because you're male and can't relate to it as well as an angsty teenage girl like myself. My boyfriend doesn't like her earlier stuff either.

Really, really good. She messes with all kinds of moods on this one and it pays off. The songs are dark, empty (but in a good way), atmospheric and strong. Her minimalism reached a limit here. Her muted balladry is really beautiful and the music is great for rainy days and lonely Autumn nights. 8/10

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Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea - Island 2000
Rating = 7

A lot of people apparently love this one, and I like it too but it sounds just like Heart! Radio-friendly professionally sung major labelly produced friendly pop rock. Chimey guitars, echo on the voice, all ready for your Dad to enjoy in his Camaro on the way home from work at the cracker factory. And this is fine and dandy while the songs are good (the first four songs are awesome - track 3 is a goddamned GAMELAN!!!! Are you part of me on this?!). But side two peters out something fierce, with a bunch of lame macho rock consisting of boring riffs and no power to speak of. It ends good though, so never mind all that.

That's it. I'm tired and sleepy, exhausted.

Reader Comments

Chris Asbestos

Heralded by critics as something of a return to raw, bluesy form (she plays guitar again on this one! Less goofy electronic sounds!) and at the same time more of a poppy, mid-period Patti-Smith-influenced affair. Well, it's really neither of those, but instead a subtle, often beguiling collection of songs that are more accessible than those of the past record. The first track, "Big Exit," has a finely-honed abrasiveness that rivals Rid Of Me yet seems more precise, less frenzied and desperate; it's still a hell of an exciting song, though.

Other tracks, such as "This Mess We're In" and "Beautiful Feeling" (both of which feature a certain lazy-eyed English gent on vocals [okay, it's Thom Yorke]) are more mellow, but lyrically no less powerful. Some of the material gets a bit same-y around the middle, as was the case with the last album, but where that one had the near-the-end one-two sucker-punch of the awe-inspiring "The River" and the downright harrowing "No Girl So Sweet", this has "Horses In My Dreams" and "We Float," possibly two of the most intimate, powerful (even if not immediately so) songs Polly's written to date. Part of what makes them so great is the insinuating rawness found in her voice, yet at the same time she doesn't resort to creep-out histrionics (albeit really entertaining creep-out histrionics) as she did on To Bring You My Love.

This is most noticable on "We Float," an actually really conventional-sounding track (complete with subdued drum machine and piano) that some fans tend to hate, but in my opinion this is just because Polly no longer seems wracked with the agony that possessed her in the past. I personally don't feel it's necessary for artists to be in the thrall of psychological turmoil to create great art, but if that's your cup of tea, you know which of her albums to turn to. A fine record, this.

this was my first p. j Harvey album, i was watching VH-1 and the lead singer of incubus was highly recommending stories from the city stories from the sea, then the next day i saw it at my library and picked it up. i was really suprised at how mellow and smooth it was but I soon fell in love with it (the way I got to bring you my love was I saw a VH-1 show where both Henry Rollins and Michael stipe drooling over it I decided it both Henry Rollins and Michael stipe love something that much it has to be great). I still think it is one of her best albums song by song, a really high 9.

ddt7734@yahoo.com (Mike Laird)
I have been a fan of Polly's from the beginning when I was in the military stationed in Japan and she was swinging her hair in a graceful arc at me in a rack in a PX. She is simply a chick who writes good songs, good music and rocks hard even when she doesn't rock hard. Why some fans think every subsequent cd must sound the same as the previous one amuses me to no end. Good Fortune must be one of the simplest and yet most beautiful and uplifting hard rock songs I have ever heard.

The album leaves something to be desired, but it's not bad at all. I agree with Mark's rating, but it's not that Heart-ish as he made it sound. Thomas Edward Yorke (the most brilliant British man out there) guests in three songs, and they're all the better for it. The duet is amazing. The quieter material is really soothing and the louder material is rocking. What more can one want? 7/10

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Uh Huh Her - Island 2004
Rating = 5

Hmmm. I only have kind of a lousy MP3 copy of this one, but the quieter songs seem completely buried in bass and I have a hard time telling exactly what's going on unless I'm right next to the computer speakers. Also, and this may be the fault of my lousy MP3 copy, a lot of the songs really blow.

PJ "Steve" Garvey tired of that radio-ready sound for the radio and has here retreated to the stark, guitar-driven sound of so many earlier times yore. Most of the songs are performed in sad or angry minor keys and some of them are quite emotionally affecting, but FAR far FAR too many of the "hooks" are composed of two chords going up-down-up-down-up-down like a lazy, bitter, drunken bluesman playing jump rope. There are standouts of course -- a sweet acoustic strummer here, a brooding kickass fully-composed slow rocker there, a bunch of birds chirping here, an eerie tapping keyboard note there, some clicky percussion here, a harrowing emotional breakdown there -- but the concentration of samey macho blues-rock songs with unbelievably stupid lyrics ("Who the fuck do you think you are/Get out of my hair/who the fuck do you think you are/Comin' round here/who the fuck who the fuck/who the fuck do you think you are".... "Mummy, put your needle down/How did you feel when you were young?/Cos I feel like I've just been born/Even though I'm getting on/How the world slips by so fast/How does anybody last?") weighs down the golden circle quite a bit over 14 compositions.

Look, let's be honest here. The good songs on here -- and there are, oh let's say SIX of them -- are really, REALLY great songs: moving, touching, filled with sadness beans and weeping with gentle tearful guitar backdrops. But then there's eight others that all sound like she spent no time on them at all! Also, to be further honest, only a few of the songs have bad lyrics. Her love poetry is beautiful ("When I was younger/I spent my days/Wondering to whom/I was supposed to pray/It's you?".... "See this winged boy falling/Falling out of something/Hits the drug I'm needing") and when she writes about taking a dump, it's hilarious ("Someone outta rinse it out with soap/Wash it out, wash it out, wash it out"... "I'm feeling burned/You taught me a lesson/I didn't want to learn"). But a song is only as enjoyable as its melody, and that's where Hip-Hug Her falls short of its two predecessors. That's just one man's opinion though. If you like simple little dark blues riffs with a lovely female voice angrily intoning atop, certainly do feel free to buy it. Just don't expect me to play it at your funeral.

I'll be too busy holding up my "God Hates Fags" sign.

I'm sorry, but the Good Book clearly states that Jesus Christ disliked British cigarettes. "Not enough tar," he said, according to Winston 13:13.

Reader Comments

Great review, and shame on me for not following through with my promise to send you a burn. I like this album better than you do, but your comments are hilarious (as always) and not far off base (not quite so "as always"). Really, though, "Shame" and several of the other tunes deserve better than a "5." A solid seven, if you ask me - which you didn't. So, post this at your own discretion.

"This is actually her best album."


I think you were a bit too strict with the reviews. I think that Polly Jean Harvey is such a wonderful, talented artist and she sais what she feels in a way she wants...in a way no other artist does and it's a shame that some people can't see the talent and polly's uniqueness in her music and lyrics.

Quite good, actually. It plays as a sampler of all her previous styles and moods. Perfect for people who want all their PJ's in one.

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The Peel Sessions 1991-2004 - Island 2006
Rating = 3

We're simply going to have to concur to disconcur on PJ Harvey -- you think her first two records are great; I think you have a banana in your ear. Here are my arguments:

a) The music is simplistic, derivative and threadbare. NOTHING HAPPENS! There is not a single exceptional melody on her first two records. I'm absolutely generalizing here; there are probably a few.

b) The vocals range from boilerplate to boiling water thrown in my earhole, with no in-between. You love how she screams with torment and raw emotion. I respond that a toddler throwing a temper tantrum does the same thing, but that doesn't make it art, or worth listening to at all.

c) You say her lyrics are great; I haven't read them. Sorry about that. Maybe I should. I'll give you this point.

The bottom line is that PJ Harvey has written a prodigious amount of bad songs in her career, and most of them seem to have wound up on this Peel Sessions CD. She plays four songs from Dry, three non-LP, two Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea and one each Rid Of Me, Uh Huh Her and Dance Hall At Louse Point. A full two of these songs ("O My Lover," "Beautiful Feeling") are tuneful and engrossing. The rest are slipshod and spiritless, with lyrics like "Look at these, my childbearing hips/Look at me, my ruby red ruby red lips" and "I hate his smell and his company/But most of all I hate that he looks just like me." Some feature PJ with full band, others are just her alone with an acoustic guitar or piano. Two are covers (Willie Dixon and Rainer Ptacek); both are exercises in stagnation.

I'm boring myself to sleep just thinking about this record. Can you imagine how many trucks I'd fall asleep at the wheel of if I were actually listening to it?

Which brings up another point: what is up with this recent spate of articles questioning whether certain Saturday Night Live sketches "go too far"? The two in particular I'm thinking of are the 2008 one making fun of New York's blind governor and the recent one about Tiger Woods' wife beating him up (controversial mainly due to abuse victim Rihanna also appearing in the episode). "Do these go too far?" the press ask me provocatively. The answer is HELL NO and THEY SHOULD GO FURTHER. The whole point of Saturday Night Live from the beginning was to present a hip, youth-oriented form of comedy that wasn't afraid to take risks or needle sacred cows. If they're still managing to offend people after 30+ years, they're doing something right!

Not that I've watched the show since Norm MacDonald left, but if I had, there you go.

In conclusion, the only good PJ Harvey Peel Session involves a tube of Nair.

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* White Chalk - Island 2007 *
Rating = 10

I'm drunk.

All piano and high singing voice. 34 minutes, 11 songs. Dark, eerie, sad songs! Very evocative! Good songs! Sometimes drums, occasionally acoustic guitar. Stark! Creepy! Melancholy! Spooky echo on her voice a lot. Really good simple melodies that sound greate!

The word "Pisspump" 75 times in a row.

I hated that last album daerly; that's why I'm so surprised that I love this album so much. Remember Tori Amos back before dung poured out of her mouth at record-breaking speeds? This is like that; very cold, stark piano with eerie high-pitched haunted house vocals. PJ Harvey specifically didn't want this album to sound like her last PIECE A SHIT and her decision and ideas are geniusly brilliant. Track 6 stinks, but come on. Listen to this harrowing 18th century ghostly girl music and stop complaining about patooties. Patooties are none or you apples dunk flap borp.

"O God I Miss You!" she might say.

It's really more of an 8.5, but a high as SHIT 8.5. She sounds like a little girl ghost creeping through her former home, haunting you with her songs of sorrow. Not "goth," but GOTHIC. Like classic Nick Cave in woman form.

Here are some other things about this album: keybaoard, tambourine/piano like an old Beach Boys song, bouncy, minor-key, driving, banjo and harmonica, starts a capella "Broken Harp" SUCKS because it's actually played on a broken harp, for Pete's sake. Nice chord changes, emotional, accordion, troubled, thump-thump, morose, despair, Insane screams at the end. Count De Bok Bok.

This world is a pile of SHT aimed at me.

Reader Comments

Mark first gave this one an eight, then a nine, then finally made up his mind and gave it a ten. I still believe that this ten should go to "To Bring You My Love", since it's her best effort, but I'm glad that my favorite misogynist homophobe likes Polly Jean's vocals on this record along with the superb songwriting. All the songs are good. Her voice is much stronger than on previous records and her lyrics are dead on. These songs are filled with loneliness, hope and beauty. I wish that some of the songs were as strong in the studio as they were live, but it's just a minor complaint. But hey, Peej won a ten on a Prindle scale. I give it a high 7.

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A Woman A Man Walked By (with John Parish) - Island 2009
Rating = 6

If you've been planning to open a Christmas-themed shoe store, great news because I just came up with some fantastic product ideas. Here, look:

- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Rain Boots
- Santa Clogs
- Frosty The Snowshoe
- Good King Men's Flip Flops
- Fa-La-La-La-La-La-Adidas
- Silent Nikes
- Do You Hear What High Heels?
- O Tennisshoe
- Walkin' In Some Wonder Timberlands
- Misteeltoe Boots
- How The Givenchy Stole Christmas
- Feliz Birkenstock
- Menorah Sandals (for your Jewish customers)

And the rest is SHOEstory! But let's cut to the chase: this album.

Because apparently one Tori Amos isn't enough, PJ Harvey herein digs deep into the stench of her bowels to unleash the most appalling vocals of her career. Mr. Parish keeps things moving with a mixture of traditional folk styles and experimental pop-rock utilizing lots of organ, ukulele and acoustic guitar, but the entire project is dragged through the sewers of sonic pustulence thanks to PJ's sudden urge to suck complete dick through a straw.

Obviously the written word is no substitute for an aural assault, but I'll do my best to describe her veritable plethora (or "virtual grab bag") of foul ideas:

"Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen" - "ERICA! ERICA-A-AAAAH!!!!"
"Leaving California" - Falsetto? No, falsetto's too low.
"April" - I just had the greatest idea. For this one, I'll sing like I'm 102.
"Pig Will Not" - I don't understand it. I'm screaming a bunch of stupid noises at the top of my lungs, yet I don't sound a bit like Nick Cave. What is going on!?
"Cracks In The Canvas" - Say, that's quite a haunting folk motif you're playing there. I think I'll just talk over it like an asshole.

What really hurts though is that with opening song/first single "Black Hearted Love," they trick you into expecting a cool straightforward rock album -- and then not a single other song is even in the same genre! There are still a few other great tunes on here (the angry crazy musically rich title track, cerebral experimental rocker "The Chair," and killer moody ballad "Passionless, Pointless") but their decision to issue the super-commercial opening track as a consumer lure seems like kind of a shitty thing to do. Where did this come from -- this cynical idea to issue a CD's most commercial song as the single!? This is a brand new trend the likes of which the always-challenging record industry has never before witnessed!

In conclusion, I'm sad to report that A Woman A Man Walked By would've been a much better record had the woman not walked by.

Reader Comments

Dunia El-Fadel
This album brings me back to the old PJ which I felt was lost in White Chalk. Lyrically ferocious and (all thanks on this point has go to Parish), musically adventurous, it's both a sour and passionate album in one. Anyone who enjoyed White Chalk's eeriness may not like this album though—it's different and she sure as heck wasn't thinking of making it "accessible" or "mainstream" in any way.

I was really disappointed with this album as a whole first, but after giving it a few extra spins, I realized it has a lot to offer—a lot that goes unnoticed the first couple times you play it.

Musically and lyrically, this album is all over the place and lives up to fans' expectations if they give it a chance to grow on them. There are high moments of rage followed by miserable and sombre pleas. While there isn't a single concept to this album, it's unswerving in its overcast mood which may get a bit claustrophobic for some people, but if you can accept the fact that PJ has and always will be an assorted bag of gloomy skittles; you'll appreciate the amount of emotions she's poured into this album lyrically—same deal with Parish musically.

I also HIGHLY recommend watching her perform these songs because it's a whole different experience seeing her move on stage, sway her hips, close her eyes, run, jump, and so on and so forth...her performance is an art of its own and you'll be able to listen to the album with a new pair of ears after. However, some songs should have never been made (Pigs Will Not, for instance...wtf were they thinking!?). I'd give this a 7/10 because I love PJ, but Prindle's 6/10 seems fair and justifiable.

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Let England Shake – Island 2011
Rating = 7

“How is our glorious country ploughed?
Not by iron ploughs;
Our land is ploughed by tanks and feet marching.”

“Soldiers fell like lumps of meat,
Blown and shot out beyond belief
Arms and legs were in the trees”

“Death was in the ancient fortress,
Shelled by a million bullets
From gunners, waiting in the copses
With hearts that threatened to pop their boxes”

“So our young men hid
With guns, in the dirt
And in the dark places”

“Soldiers standing in formation,
The damp earth underneath,
Holding their rifles high.
Their young wives, with white hands
Wave goodbye.”

“Walker’s in the wire
Limbs pointing upwards.
There are no birds singing,
‘The White Cliffs of Dover.’”

“Louis was my dearest friend
Fighting in the Anzac trench.
Louis ran forward from the line,
And I never saw him again.”

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome -- Roger Waters, female version.

Possibly inundated with TV news coverage of Afghanistan, Iraq and other war-torn (by Western forces) hotspots, Ms. Harvey has put together a concept album about Britain's blood-soaked history of armed battle. With the support of John Parish (drums, trombone, xylophone, Mellotron, Rhodes organ, guitar, vocals, percussion), Mick Harvey (piano, bass harmonica, drums, organ, vocals, Rhodes organ, bass, percussion, guitar, xylophone) and Jean-Marc Butty (drums, vocals), Polly Jean Harvey here utilizes vocals, auto harp, saxophone, guitar, zither and violin to create this album. Good night!

(*snores for seven hours*)

Good morning! As you may have surmised from the lyrics quoted above, this is an incredibly bleak record, and one so awash in minor chords and grim vocal melodies that it constantly threatens to become tedious in its emotional predictability. Then again, every song on White Chalk sounds exactly the same and I love that one, so maybe I should have a warm glass of shut the hell up!

Adam Sandler movie

Let England Shake sounds terrific from an audio standpoint. Polly voices the songs in an uncommonly girlish style, and the instruments were mostly recorded live so they sound real, raw and unprocessed. The arrangements are also exciting and novel, with all sorts of unexpected instruments adding color to the otherwise overly similar and depressing material. Examples include the Pixies-surf lead guitar of “The Last Living Rose,” percolating bass and infectious war bugle of “The Glorious Land,” Stereolab-meets-Nick-Cave jangle-western of “On Battleship Hill,” and banjo/yodeling samples coursing through “England”).

However, as with most artists these days, PJ completely fails in her attempt to make all the exact same songwriting decisions that I would have made. For example, color me nuts, but the title track would probably be a bit more compelling had she conspired to tune her autoharp before playing. Furthermore, color my balls if “All and Everyone” doesn’t steal its chord changes from an old Bee Gees song, paint my sac if “In the Dark Places” doesn’t borrow its vocal hook from an old Patti Smith song, magic marker my scrote if “The Colour of the Earth” doesn’t sound like corny little kids’ music, watercolor my nads if “Bitter Branches” doesn’t sound identical to (but less interesting than) the eight tracks preceding it, and rub a colored pencil all over my semen barrels if “Written on the Forehead” doesn’t just suck a gigantic dick out of my ass.

So no, it’s not perfect. Nevertheless, you’d have to be kooky not to consider it one of this artist’s most fascinating and memorable releases – a timeless concept album full of brutally graphic lyrics, terrific singing, and (surprisingly, given its subject matter) a real “Olde American” vibe, as if she’s discussing the U.S. Civil War rather than Margaret Thatcher’s attack on the Falkland Islands and how it relates to the history of warfare in Britain and the way her father died in World War II and she spit on a guy in the crowd and wrote The Wall.

Speaking of Roger Waters, what's up with the title track of that last Pink Floyd album he did? Did you hear that thing!? Here, let me refresh your memory:

"Thought I oughta bare my naked penis!
Thought I oughta tear my trousers down!
I held the pud in trembling hands, prepared to make it, but...
Just then my bone sank
I never had the wood to fuck the final slut."

See what I mean!? Talk about a, I mean JEEZ!

And don't even get me STARTED on The Pros & Cons of Buttfucking!

Incidentally, if I pass away tonight, please ask the funeral home to adorn my headstone with the poignant epithet, “Rub a colored pencil all over my semen barrels if ‘Written on the Forehead’ doesn’t just suck a gigantic dick out of my ass.”

In fact, ask the President to recite it on live international TV, in the name of peace.

Reader Comments

Billy Barron
In the Gang of Four "Content" review, you say "I’m just gonna try to come up with a one-line dismissal as good as his."

Well, you did it, but it was in the PJ Harvey "Let England Shake" review: "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome -- Roger Waters, female version."

And PJ Harvey won another 7 on your scale! Glad you enjoyed it.

Thomas Peters
this is one of the best records of 2011. i love the live-feeling of the record and the simplicity of the songs. it's very creative, without being strange or annoying. the lyrics are ironic, and together with the sometimes happily sung melodies it gets a very cynical feeling, but not depressed. pretty clever pop music.

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