Album: P J Harvey

Uh Huh Her, Island
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The Independent Culture

"I longed for a land where no man was ever known/ With no neuroses and no psychoses/ No psychoanalysis and no sadness," sings P J Harvey in "Darker Days of Me and Him". Faced with the murky well of misery that is Uh Huh Her, one can but echo her desire: if only she had not suffered so much for her art, then neither might we. The opening track, "Life and Death of Mr Badmouth", sets the tone for the whole album: a slow, sludgy trudge of rudimentary guitar noise, it bitterly attacks a former lover whose lies have destroyed her trust. "Your lips taste of poison," she fulminates, "You're gonna be the unhappy one". But not, clearly, the only one. "How does anybody last?" she enquires in "Pocket Knife", adding, "I'm not trying to cause a fuss/ Just wanna make my own fuck-ups," which is only half-true; surely Harvey's entire aesthetic is based on making a fuss, as brutally and noisily as possible, and thanks to the absence of the more variegated musical input on her previous releases, that's very bruta

"I longed for a land where no man was ever known/ With no neuroses and no psychoses/ No psychoanalysis and no sadness," sings P J Harvey in "Darker Days of Me and Him". Faced with the murky well of misery that is Uh Huh Her, one can but echo her desire: if only she had not suffered so much for her art, then neither might we. The opening track, "Life and Death of Mr Badmouth", sets the tone for the whole album: a slow, sludgy trudge of rudimentary guitar noise, it bitterly attacks a former lover whose lies have destroyed her trust. "Your lips taste of poison," she fulminates, "You're gonna be the unhappy one". But not, clearly, the only one. "How does anybody last?" she enquires in "Pocket Knife", adding, "I'm not trying to cause a fuss/ Just wanna make my own fuck-ups," which is only half-true; surely Harvey's entire aesthetic is based on making a fuss, as brutally and noisily as possible, and thanks to the absence of the more variegated musical input on her previous releases, that's very brutal and noisy indeed. To be fair, it's not entirely one-dimensional: there are brief glimmers of romantic or artistic exultation in tracks such as "The Letter" and "Cat on the Wall", but the album's general emotional aspect is, nonetheless, unforgivingly grim.

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