This spring sees the release of PJ Harvey’s ninth studio album, The Hope Six Demolition Project.
The Hope Six Demolition Project draws from several journeys undertaken by Harvey, who spent time in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. over a four-year period. “When I’m writing a song I visualise the entire scene. I can see the colours, I can tell the time of day, I can sense the mood, I can see the light changing, the shadows moving, everything in that picture. Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about. I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with”, says Harvey.
The album was recorded last year in residency at London’s Somerset House. The exhibition, entitled ‘Recording in Progress’ saw Harvey, her band, producers Flood and John Parish, and engineers working within a purpose-built recording studio behind one-way glass, observed throughout by public audiences.
STAFF COMMENTSLaura says: Documenting trips to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington DC with photographer Seamus Murphy, this album is a protest album of sorts. A natural progression from 'Let England Shake', it looks at the aftermath of American political decisions, acts in the name of progress, both home and abroad and the often negative consequences. Dealing with war, death, displacement and poverty amongst other things, you know it's never going to be easy listening. The songs are at times bleak but there's empathy, defiance and conviction in Polly's delivery that married to a swamp-blues soundtrack embellished with funereal keyboards, wailing sax and field recordings, makes for a powerful, intoxicating album. Having seen her perform live in the Summer completely sealed the deal for me. Her performance was completely captivating and emphasised the power of the album and also what an exceptional musical force Polly Harvey is.
Barry says: What better positive rock icon could there be than PJ Harvey? Her meaningful and often hard-hitting lyrical themes serve as a powerful back-up to her latent politicism. The trademark outpourings are as much on show here as they ever were, but through the variety of influences absorbed for this undertaking, there is a diversity both thematic and aural. Rock hooks above barely-there guitar solos and brass stabs. Clanging guitars and fist-pumping choruses meet meandering noodles, underpinned by sonic sweeps and a rawkus, but often smooth vocal delivery. Rousing and anthemic, everything you'd expect from Harvey, and everything you could ever want.
Sil says: PJ Harvey takes the role of musical war correspondent critiquing the injustices and political abuse that the powerless suffer upon. This album is a poignant reminder of the state of the world. The melodies are poppy and catchy but the lyrics are like a mirror reflecting back at us which makes us question our role in it all.
A Line in the Sand is my favourite track here. Infused with evocative melodies and the overpowering PJ Harvey's falsetto.