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Album Review
The Hope Six Demolition Project

The Hope Six Demolition Project
by PJ Harvey

Island Records

Review Date
3rd May 2016
Reviewed by
Gerry Le Roux

Almost 30 years into a career with many highs and few lows, and following on the acclaimed Let England Shake, PJ Harvey’s latest offering comes highly anticipated indeed.

Conceived during visits to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Washington DC with filmmaker Seamus Murphy; created (with producers Flood and John Parish) in sessions open to the public as an art installation called ‘Recording in Progress’ - and then released as part of a wider project including a book of her poetry and visuals by Murphy, we are offered multiple angles from which to approach the work.

On Let England Shake Harvey introduced a stronger political agenda than before - something she pursues more overtly here. Where the previous album expertly blended politics with introspection, her latest offers both more and less - it addresses wider, more universal political themes, yet does so with seemingly less emotional involvement, at times feeling almost blunt in approach. For the most part, Harvey employs a sort of musical journalism, expressing in music and poetry what she experienced, yet leaving interpretation to the listener. Often this actually enhances the impact, forcing the listener to make up their own mind.

Musically the album is less subtle or melodious than Let England Shake. It's driving guitar rock, yet with more varied instrumentation - the skronk and squeal of saxophone being particularly pervasive. The general mood is stark and militant, a feel further enhanced by her band's all-male backing vocals.

The Hope Six Demolition Project isn't an easy listen, and while it is unlikely to win Harvey many new fans, it is another strong entry in her challenging, consistently excellent catalogue.


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