Music Reviews
Uh Huh Her

PJ Harvey Uh Huh Her

(Island) Rating - 5/10

Polly Jane seems to be struggling with her direction. From the album artwork - full of questions, self-portraits, and suggestions for song composition - to half-committed tracks like Pocket Knife this is an album that suggests the need for a burst of energy. While its brilliant precursor, Stories from the City... was full of emotional depth, complexity, and, frequently, great tunes, this album treads water. Other reviewers have spoken of the rawness of this work, of its sparse and edgy texture, but I'm afraid all I can encounter is nostalgia for the brittle strength of Dry or Rid of Me. Whereas Stories... found a maturing sound and a broader thematic palette - taking in anger, love, pure lust - here old stalwarts like guilt and blind indignation dominate. There's an anomalous need to shock here, as on Shame and Who the Fuck?, a statement which may make me sound prudish, but is related to the feeling I get when faced with Tracey Emin's theatrics. Well done, but, so what?

There's another option, the occasionally upbeat, occasionally aggressive, always dynamic attitude of her earlier work, where in all cases there are the tunes and emotional complexity to carry the theme. This work certainly lacks anything that sticks in the mind, even if the skills at work mean that nothing is ill-conceived or badly put together. Both pared down and unengaging at the same time, this appears to be a dead end. I hope it's one Harvey gets out of soon. She is one of this country's great musical talents. Seeing her stuck in such a creative hiatus is both upsetting and frustrating.