PJ Harvey

The Hope Six Demolition Project

Vagrant

Apr 15, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


There's a beautiful, full-circle moment that brings The Hope Six Demolition Project to a close. Forlorn horns and ghostly organs eventually give way to the sound of children playing in the background, forcing a moment or two of filterless human connection. Listener on subject. PJ Harvey has said her piece. What a visceral piece it is, too.

Harvey travelled to Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington D.C. in anticipation of her ninth studio LP. She also partially recorded it in front of a live audience at Somerset House in London. This is a record that refuses to sit and get frustrated about wealth distribution, war, classism, and capitalism without a human connection. It's political poignant first hand. "Hey little children, don't disappear," she cries on "The Wheel," "Now you see them/Now you don't/The children vanished on a vehicle." Its accompanying video was shot during her visit to Kosovo, and juxtaposes good human spirits with political hostility and war. On that crushing closer ("Dollar Dollar"), Harvey laments, "Boy stares through the glass/Saying 'dollar, dollar'" before poignantly adding, "I turn to you and asked for something we can offer."

In terms of the primitive desire for songs that sound great stripped of context, The Hope Six Demolition Project more than holds its own. Harvey's commanding, arresting vocals peel away from "The Ministry of Defence," to the synth-laden despairs of "River Anacostia," and the jerkier strut of "Medicinals." This is a record blessed with a musical identity rich enough to avoid becoming part of the kicking-against-the-pricks, politically-charged LP lexicondespite the bluntness of its subject matter.

As it often is with PJ Harvey albums, however, the true magic of the record is beneath the chilling humanity of itthe first-hand insight and the sense that Harvey has genuinely lived this record as truly as an artist could. The magic of The Hope Six Demolition Project is the glimmer of hope that in a war-torn, inequality-ridden, and ultimately unpleasant world, things might somehow change. It's hard to think that the raw human connection at the end of "Dollar Dollar" would leave anyone unmoved. Harvey set out to bring listeners and the underprivileged subjects of her record together, and the exciting thing is that that final moment should surely do that. (www.pjharvey.net)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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