PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project (2016): Review

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Produced by PJ Harvey, John Parish and Flood
Label – Island/Vagrant

Five years since the powerful evocation of the atrocity of war on the Mercury Award winning “Let England Shake” there seems to have opened up a world of wonder for Polly Harvey. Her 2011 album was mainly inspired by letters and poems from various conflicts, passionately reflected upon and deservedly critiqued by many as her greatest recording. “The Hope Six Demolition Project” partly focusses on the ravages of more recent wars, and Harvey had took it upon herself to experience first hand the remnants of destroyed communities in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Her ally on these trips, photographer and film maker Seamus Murphy recorded the often harrowing images for future publication, whilst Polly wrote abstract lines in a notebook that would be shaped into songs for the new project. A trip to Washington D.C. would reveal further deprivation in the ramshackle streets just minutes from the White House. Field trip completed, she then took the brave decision to partly record the album in full glare of the public at a converted basement studio in Somerset House London.

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Like its predecessor, “The Hope Six Demolition Project” is a raw, blunt and emotionally charged rock album. By immersing herself in the subject matter, she delivers some of her most chilling lines with an eye for personal detail that has been enhanced by the promotional videos that have accompanied the songs. Particularly visceral is “The Wheel”, which juxtaposes the thrill of a ferris wheel in the bombed out desolation of the ruins that surround it. Her blues stomper, “The Ministry Of Social Affairs” cleverly samples Jerry McCain And His Upstarts 1956 song “That’s What They Want”. One can feel the desperation of the Kabul beggar boy in the slow building “Dollar, Dollar”, taste the toxin in the excellent “River Anacostia”. The potent poetry is supported by tight multiple instrumentation, well honed by the understanding John Parish, Flood, and Mick Harvey. Harvey’s overused alto sax can be an occasional distraction, but on the whole these blemishes are overcome by some enthralling moments.

Every bit as worthy as the seismic quake left by “Let England Shake”, “The Hope Six…” is the intense after shock, and almost as devastating.

8/10

Track Rating
1 – The Community Of Hope (8)
2 – The Ministry Of Defence (8)
3 – A Line In The Sand (7)
4 – Chain Of Keys (6)
5 – River Anacostia (8)
6 – Near The Memorials Of Vietnam And Lincoln (7)
7 – The Orange Monkey (7)
8 – Medicinals (6)
9 – The Ministry Of Social Affairs (8)
10 – The Wheel (9)
11 – Dollar, Dollar (8)

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (2011): Review

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