What would Sinead O’Connor be like in 2000 if she really picked up where Lion And The Cobra left off? What is that thing that Hole (with Celebrity Skin), The Cranberries (with Bury the Hatchet) and Morrissey (with Southpaw Grammar) tried so hard to accomplish but failed? The answers to these questions can be found in Polly Jean Harvey’s latest release, a record that is perhaps the most accessible of her career. Though somewhat back-to-basics, it definitely contains the essence and rage that has always characterized this magnificent woman (who is one of my musical and “feminist” icons).
Doing an album that sounds brave and mellow at the same time is not an easy thing. Putting aside Patti Smith’s most recent albums, this is the first record that I really feel accomplishes that with elegance since Sinead O’Connor’s The Lion and the Cobra. At least, musically. Lyrically, however, we see Polly Jean more relaxed, perhaps happier, but definitely still nonconformist and intense.
The highlights of this album are various; the warm, Patti Smith-ish “Good Fortune,” the sentimental piano-ballad “Horses In My Dreams,” the abrasive “The Whore’s Hustle and the Hustle’s Whore,” the simple yet intriguing “The Best Thing.” This record is a ride to the deepest corners of happiness, anger, sadness, and urbanity (beyond the chic) that make us feel the complex lives of a city. Also interesting is “The Mess We’re In,” a very daring duet between Polly and Thom Yorke. Sometimes it seems like a present from Radiohead to Polly of a song that did not fit on Kid A. Not only does it somewhat resemble the group’s pre-Kid A albums, but Yorke’s voice also serves as protagonist.
In short, this is an album that should not be missed. This is a work of art of an artist whose creative spark doesn’t seem to sell out regardless of the circumstances, and that has little (or even nothing) to envy of its predecessors. This is also a really good place to start if you are new to the fascinating world of Polly Jean.
Congratulations Polly, may your spark still be with you!
Written by Pekky Marquez.