After the sort of mellow, almost commercial release of Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey throws the fans a left turn once again with Uh Huh Her. It’s a heavy, raw album although not raw like Dry was. It seems simpler, somehow. And I think it’s with this disc that you realize that every PJ Harvey record is going to be different. It was apparent that she had a trajectory on those first few discs, but this one changes everything, and she proves that you’ll never know what’s going to come from her.
“The Life and Death of Mr Badmouth” has a very simple blues riff with kind of chanting (and occasional creepy backing vocals) by PJ. While ”Shame” adds more texture (melodica?) and some more washes of sound. ”Who the Fuck?” is a wonderfully vulgar and raw track with brutal guitars and overly loud vocals. ”Pocket Knife” is a buzzy but quiet track which feels like a demo (the guitar even seems out of tune), while “The Letter” has a great fuzzy guitar sound and a cool melody.
“The Slow Drug” is one of several slower pieces. As with many of her quieter stuff this does nothing for me, although it’s a nice change on the disc. ”No Child of Mine” is a brief acoustic number. It feels more like an excerpt or a transitional song than any actual song (being only a minute long). It leads to the rocking “Cat on a Wall.” ”You Came Through” mixes things up very nicely with a heavy percussion. The effects in the song are really captivating.
“It’s You” is a slow piano-based song, while “The End” is a brief instrumental (more melodica). And “The Desperate Kingdom of Love” is a dark ballad. The oddest track is “Seagulls” which is a minute of actual seagulls squawking…an unusual addition for any disc. The album ends with “The Darker Days of Me & Him.” It’s a quiet acoustic song which shows just how many different style she’s willing to experiment with even on one disc. Even though to me this is a raw rocking disc, there are still a number of acoustic tracks as well.
This album feels like some kind of psychic purge.
[READ: March 31, 2011] The Littlest Hitler
I picked up this collection of stories because I enjoyed Boudinot’s story in the BlackBook collection very much. I didn’t realize that that story was in fact part one of a two-part story (although part two bore no relation to part one, as you’ll see). The story in BlackBook was funny and dark, but it didn’t prepare me for just how dark these stories would get. And for the most part, it seemed like the darkness came at the very end; a surprise, a shock. I admit i grew a little weary of the device by the end of the collection, although not all of the stories employed it, so there was some diversity. (more…)