PJ Harvey – “The Hope Six Demolition Project” (2016)

Label: Island Records Group/Universal

Review by Warren Mayocchi

PJ Harvey never wants to repeat herself in the music she creates. On “The Hope Six Demolition Project” she creates strong melodies that feel raw, almost unproduced. It regularly features indie sounding big-band brass, marching drums, blues saxophone, African influences and the demo-like band fronted with PJ Harvey‘s wonderful vocals. To inspire her songs PJ Harvey went on a world journey, visiting grim locations and writing about her experiences. This album seems to be a statement, but no-one is sure what it is. There are song titles like “A Line in the Sand” and “The Ministry of Defence”, then there are the mournful sounds like you can hear on “Dollar Dollar” and then there are the curious lyrics like those of “The Community of Hope”. When PJ Harvey sings “They’re going to put a Walmart here”, it evokes Joni Mitchell‘s “Big Yellow Taxi”, but what is she saying? It is hard to tell, because the songs make no judgement – they are more like photographs in song. Perhaps it is up to the listener to investigate further and form their own opinion. As such they are uncomfortable songs to hear – certainly there is beauty in the presentation, but I am left with a feeling of discomfort. Almost as if this is too important to reduce to entertainment. There are some wonderful sounding songs on the album, my favourite is “The Orange Monkey”. The album has a serious real-world aspect to it which cannot be ignored. Both “The Wheel” and “The Community of Hope” have music videos so you see whether you can handle it, and whether you want to listen to more. Though the album sounds wonderful, the lyrical content will probably make it an experience that is confusing and uncomfortable. Perhaps that is the point – do you ignore it, or attempt to find out the story behind the photograph?

Rating – 80/100

 

Tracklist

  1. The Community of Hope
  2. The Ministry of Defence
  3. A Line In the Sand
  4. Chain of Keys
  5. River Anacostia
  6. Near the Memorials to Vietnam and Lincoln
  7. The Orange Monkey
  8. Medicinals
  9. The Ministry of Social Affairs
  10. The Wheel
  11. Dollar, Dollar

 

Links

facebook.com/pjharvey

twitter.com/pjharveyuk