PJ Harvey 
Uh Huh Her
/island; 2004/



Our first contact with Harvey’s 7th effort has been the poisonous ‘The Letter’ whose highly pleasant Unwound-esque twisted guitar has made it tremendously addictive. The song let us infer a come back to her first raw albums. Well, well, well, we were not that right: ‘Who the fuck?’ is almost the only other track directly pointing at these references. Even if the sound is fortunately much less polished than the ‘on the way to mainstream’ and over-rewarded Stories from the City…, it is not as raw as Rid of Me or Dance Hall at Louse Point.

However the remainder of the album is truly enjoyable thanks to introspective deliveries. Uh Huh Her is close to Is This Desire sensual and subdued atmosphere even though it does not pile up as much tension but seems to yield to quiet resignation towards the end. The suave voice that had tried to be mature in Stories… is back, guitars are mostly foggy. ‘The Pocket Knife’, and the poignant ‘It’s You’, dealing with the loss of a close relative, are undoubtedly worthy of Is This Desire? The short folk wink ‘No Child of Mine’ seems to nod in the direction of her true work of art, Dry. ‘The Darker of Me & Him’ evokes Is This Desire? as well but introduces something incredibly fragile and moving in its resigned slowness and quietness, something that Harvey seldom tried to reach and that might lead her further away.

Uh Huh Her seems fortunately to be driven by the will to forget Stories…’s unpleasant shadow through the remembrance of past albums, as if she was trying to forget a recent, unreasonable love story through the golden remembrance of prior wild loves. I give you that this is somehow a shallow metaphor. Yet, love, as commonplace as it is, seems to be the unifying theme of the album, be it expressed through disillusion (‘The Desperate Kingdom of Love’, ‘The Darker Days of Me & Him’, ‘Shame’) or through a solid longing (‘Cat on the Wall’ which indicates that Stories short story is not yet closed, ‘The Slow Drug’).

There is nothing really new in Uh Huh Her but Harvey seems to come back to basics to rest a while before taking off again. Even if this album seems to look for something, for a new direction maybe, to be like a person living in different places (for example ‘Shame’ oscillates in-between the touching lost purity of ‘Angelene’ and say the forced aspect of ‘Good Fortune’), it is a fine one. You always expect more from someone who already released a handful of great albums…

-SEB ‘Who really cares about Vincent Gallo ??’ WOOd.

PS: Nice packaging focused on half-conceited self-photos but next time just tell her to write the tracklist correctly. It’s not as if she had a lo-fi attitude to display anyway…

/june 15th 2004/