PJ Harvey
The Hope Six Demolition Project


3.6
great

Review

by Sowing STAFF
April 15th, 2016 | 240 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: PJ Harvey puts America on notice

PJ Harvey makes no attempt to hide her political motives. It’s a facet of her music that has recently helped define both PJ Harvey as an artist as well as the people who listen to her music. Let England Shake was ripe with unrest, evolving into one of the decade’s key protest albums. Her voice seems like it was crafted specifically with this in mind; she has the range to express both hopeful resolve as well as to fiercely lament the atrocities of modern governments and their citizens. She’s almost like a vigilante, hunting down deception and corruption to expose it. In 2011, England was on the chopping block. As it turns out, America isn’t safe from her keen eye either.

The Hope Six Demolition Project has been dubbed “Let America Shake” by some critics, and at least in terms of the lyrical content, it’s an apt comparison. Harvey bemoans the state of Anocostia, a D.C. neighborhood whose schools she refers to as “a shithole” and whose drug-riddled populace she regards as “zombies.” On the jolting, industrial-backed ‘The Ministry of Defence’, she cries out “this is how the world will end” while backed by an ominous crowd-chant. Yes, The Hope Six Demolition Project is very much its predecessor’s sibling, and the lyrics – most of which began as poetry – resonate with the same sort of calm yet menacing warnings to a nation blinded by all things less important than the actual truth. At its best, some of the realizations made will send a chill up your spine.

Where Harvey’s ninth album deviates is its musical approach. Whereas recent outings have shown her wailing away in stunning and haunting falsetto, The Hope Six Demolition Project sounds far more grounded. If Let England Shake was an atmospheric glide through the skies of the U.K., then this was crafted with callused hands, in the heartland of the U.S. Just listen to ‘The Wheel’, a track that stomps and claps its way into every corner of your mind while gathering its momentum from a drudging background, all of which is highlighted by eerie, high-pitched electric guitars. The whole thing feels very to-the-bone, introducing a physical element that seems to have usurped the lighter, moodier aura of PJ’s more recent offerings. There’s an authentic sense of craftsmanship here, such that even in its (at times) bare and frame-like posture, it still feels full of depth and certainty.

Fans and critics will most likely listen to Hope Six and point out that it is not as haunting, memorable, or immediate as some of her other works. All of this is true, and there’s no sense in trying to develop an argument for this being her best. However, there’s something to be said for fashioning intriguingly different music more than twenty years into a career. To be able to still spark curiosity around her artistic direction, all the while raising serious political and social questions, is nothing short of admirable - and it’s a feat that is never accomplished by settling into a groove. The Hope Six Demolition Project is just like PJ Harvey – always thinking, always moving. Even if it may capture her in a moment between masterpieces, it doesn’t make her music any less enthralling or her cause any less compelling.



s
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user ratings (209)
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Rowan5215 STAFF (2)
"You leave a taste... a bitter one"...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
April 15th 2016


43745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A rather quick synopsis this time.



I really enjoy the lyrics here, and as a whole this is great but not England caliber.

ArsMoriendi
April 15th 2016


40747 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Why did you put The Ministry of Defense as the sample track? That's easily one of the worst songs on here... probably one of her worst guitar lines by far even discography wise.



Also this review fails to mention that some of the songs (such as The Wheel) aren't about America at all. Plus, why didn't you mention the common theme of saxophone or occasional psych elements (both of which are really important things to mention since PJ had rarely implemented sax and never implemented psych until this release, and sax is prominent on almost every song on the album) all you talked about with the music was her voice and The Wheel's guitar part...



No offense, but this review seems a bit prematurely written and I fear that it'll remain the flagged review since you're staff. Do you always write reviews for albums the first day you've heard them? Because honestly that's not really a good idea since even I (someone who has already heard the album 3 times in full) still don't know it well enough to write a review myself. Should have waited a week to let it sink in or something.



Also, I actually have another problem with the review, it's literally written through a "let's focus on mainly comparing this to Let England Shake lens" which just makes it seem like it's the only other PJ album you know (which while that might be the truth, it's kind of bad for the review to reflect that.)

.

(Sorry If I seem a little harsh, but I feel like you failed to really represent this album accurately with your review and this reads like you wrote the review after like 1 listen.)

theBoneyKing
April 15th 2016


24235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Good review, though it feels a bit brief. I have to disagree with your opening lines though, Let England Shake was her first album that really delved into politics. Other than that album, her music is very personal - not necessarily confessional, but I would not call it political.



Only listened to this once so far but I liked it.

ArsMoriendi
April 15th 2016


40747 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

How much do you wanna bet that Sowing has only heard those 2 PJ albums?

anat
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2016


5691 Comments


Album cover is nauseating

ArsMoriendi
April 15th 2016


40747 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's easily her worst album cover, nauseating seems a bit extreme though. Hard to think the same artist had such a beautiful and well representing cover only 9 years ago...

theBoneyKing
April 15th 2016


24235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Yeah I can't get over how bad the cover is.

Tunaboy45
April 15th 2016


18385 Comments


Can't wait to hear this, cover isn't that bad. Great review as always Sowing.

Gyromania
April 15th 2016


36908 Comments


aw, i was worried about this. knew she couldn't follow up let england shake

ArsMoriendi
April 15th 2016


40747 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's better than Stories and Uh Huh Her honestly, not that those are terrible or anything. Honestly, even lesser PJ is satisfying... except the "song" Seagulls lol

theBoneyKing
April 15th 2016


24235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I'm holding back major judgments on this - it's a lot to take in and it'll take some time of fully absorb - though my early evaluation after a couple listens is that this is definitely one of her weakest efforts - how weak is the question, but by her standards anything below a 4 is weak so that doesn't really mean much.

ArsMoriendi
April 15th 2016


40747 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Boney, check Uh Huh Her just so you can gauge her worst and compare it.

AmericanFlagAsh
April 15th 2016


13001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah LES was really her first political album

I'm assuming this is still way better than Weezer and Kanye, the only two albums I've heard from this year

Tunaboy45
April 15th 2016


18385 Comments


Let England Shake is a seminal work of political awareness and a reflection on patriotism. Following up that is a tough task for anyone.

AmericanFlagAsh
April 15th 2016


13001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Let England Shake is something amazing, yeah

zakalwe
April 15th 2016


38520 Comments


This is great.

ArsMoriendi
April 15th 2016


40747 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

While I agree that Let England Shake rules, it's still only like her 4th best album. Seriously guys check To Bring You My Love, it's really something special.

theBoneyKing
April 15th 2016


24235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Ars, I'll get to Uh Huh Her soon.



And yeah Let England Shake was always going to be insanely tough to follow up, but if there were anybody who could do it it is she.



And yeah everyone needs to hear To Bring You My Love

Sowing
Moderator
April 15th 2016


43745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For the record I did listen to this more than once, and I have heard more than just the most recent two albums. I compared them because they're very similar albums. I do see how my opening paragraph could make it seem like I'm new to PJ Harvey, so perhaps I could have worded it a bit better. But the review was intended to be brief, so to say something like "why didn't you talk about (blank), you clearly didn't give this enough time to sink in" just makes it seem like you need to write a review for it that covers the topics you feel are important rather than seeming disappointed/outraged that exactly what you noticed or took away isn't the focal point of the write up. I dunno, not trying to be overly defensive but I feel like you're being awfully presumptuous about what I have and haven't heard/how long I listened.

ArsMoriendi
April 15th 2016


40747 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It just rubbed me the wrong way, the idea of writing a review (especially one that's probably going to always be the flagged review) the same day an album comes out is pretty problematic. I just wish you took more time to talk about the album itself instead of measuring it up to Let England Shake.



I wasn't planning on writing my own review of this, but I feel like I have to now, will probably have one out within the week.



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