PJ Harvey
To Bring You My Love


5.0
classic

Review

by Christopher Y. USER (30 Reviews)
February 7th, 2019 | 8 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mmhmm…

When it comes to a musician going solo after he or she left the band or the original band was fractured, the chances are he or she will not achieve the same degree when they were in the band. Although there are numerous exceptions who exceed beyond that degree, such as Nick Cave from The Birthday Party and Lou Reed from The Velvet Underground, the poor impression of “going solo” tends to stick in our heads. Enter Polly Jean Harvey, the already notorious rocker in the UK who once fronted the PJ Harvey trio, went solo once she disbanded the band once she completed the tour for their international artistic breakthrough Rid of Me. Although she released her third album under the PJ Harvey name, the album that is To Bring You My Love is her proper solo debut. Bringing in renowned producer Flood, as well as numerous musicians including future frequent collaborator John Parish, who also provided production work, Harvey has provided a highly ornate dimension to the American Blues-oriented album itself, giving a much richer and bluesier tone than anything she created when she was in the trio. As a result, what you are listening is not only her most wonderfully diverse album in her already impressive discography but arguably her best and most vital work that continues to rival its predecessor in terms of musical brilliance to this day.

For starters, the album contains some of the most sinister songwriting in her catalog. While Dry shows Harvey as an abrasive yet seductive figure and Rid of Me found her as a sadistic, sex-craved dominatrix, To Bring You My Love is the period where the singer/songwriter presents as a darkly sensual femme fatale, yet still show no signs of restraining her sexual hunger and aggression. No other songs showcased such grim features than the signature single-cum-American breakthrough hit, “Down By The Water”, where she moans about drowning a young girl in the perspective of the child's deranged mother, as the daughter is flirting with an older man, who is perhaps the mother’s lover (“That blue-eyed girl/Became blue-eyed whore”), resulting the mother being ruthless about the girl’s life(“I heard her holler/I heard her moan”) and continuously “whispered” to god and the fishes in the water to “bring back” her daughter in the end, all of these blood-chilling lyrics were flourished by shadowy drones and icy strings, sealing it as a shivering classic.

Other tracks also shared the abyssal spectre and grim lyrical details as well: the haunting opening title track is a fable of a desperate women who went through numerous dire situations, just to show her love to her lover(“And I've traveled over dry earth and floods/Hell and high water to bring you my love”), all was flourished by the dark guitar work and atmospheric organs; the single-worthy, Siouxsie and The Banshees-meet-Nirvana “Long Snake Moan” sounds like a leftover cut in the Rid of Me session, as Harvey searingly howled about absorbing her sexual partner’s power and conquering sexual dominance (“Over, under/Die of pleasure”) amid the dense walls of distorted guitars, and even ask whether her “voodoo” was working in the end and demanded the partner to moan, perhaps out of orgasm; the industrial-flavoured “Meet Ze Monsta” found her succumb to her lover in an eerie way, as she described the person as a “big black monsoon” and herself as ready to meet this monster tonight and allow to let it take her away, and even screamed at the end of the song, perhaps portraying a tumultuous and abusive romance; the cryptic “Working for the Man” is a track that hints the more subdued and haunting affair in the follow-up Is This Desire?, as she drives around and allure a man(“Take in handsome, take in me/Look good in my steel machine”), so she could get the power from “the man above” by sacrificing the victim, believing she’s working for that man and doing “something good”, a chilling depiction of the extreme action of a cult member could do. Rid of Me may be an aggressive and petrifying beast, yet this album is an entirely different horror, it’s downright enigmatic, mystical and dangerously alluring that solidify itself as an artistic triumph.

Despite this album exhibited her most heartless moments, it also unveiled her most brooding ones as well: The campy “C’mon Billy” is an alluring yet heartbreaking portrait of an incomplete family, as Harvey crooned to her former boyfriend Billy to see his son, in whom he never met since the child’s birth(“Don’t you think it’s time now/You met your only son?”), yet she also wants to reunite with the man(“Damn thing went crazy/But I swear you’re the only one”), adding an unsettlingly melancholic shade to the album; the folky “Send His Love to Me” is an exquisitely aching depiction about long-distance relationship, as she moaned about her boyfriend deserting her in a desert(“Lover had to leave me ‘cross the desert plain/Turned to me, his lady, tell me, "Lover, wait.”), leaving her to go mad in the process(“This love becomes a tether/This room becomes a cell”), and begged god and her mommy and daddy(yes, you heard me) to send his feelings to her, a song that many long-distance couple could relate; “Teclo” is an elegy that soaked with sadness and regret and layered with chorus-heavy guitar, with the songstress lamented the torturous days since the death her lover(“Long goes the night/Longer the day”), and moaned to god to bring back the loved one back to life(“Send me his love/Send him to me again”);the title and Harvey’s droning vocals of the song ”I Think I’m a Mother” may suggest the song is a doomed odyssey about pregnancy and abortion, yet the string-backed, tribal drum-laden tune is actually a poem about tackling insecurity, as she moaned about seeking help for shaking off her troubles/disease, thus the vaguely enigmatic lyrics, “You lover, my lover/You just roll me over/You give me your mother”, with the “mother” in the line is perhaps a metaphor for the cure for the troubles; the swooning, torch-y closer “The Dancer” is perhaps the sequel of “Send His Love to Me”, as Harvey finally finds her true love return (“He came riding fast like a phoenix out of fire flames/He came dressed in black with a cross bearing my name”), with the songstress yelped that how his return finally relives her(“'Cause I've prayed days, I've prayed nights for the lord just to send me home some sign/I’ve looked long, I've looked far to bring peace to my black and empty heart”). These are tunes that you wouldn’t find in the album’s two predecessors, as they are too grand and dramatic to fit them. However, they also prove another thing as well: Polly Jean Harvey has successfully evolved as a musician and expanded her songwriting scope, and that she’s not the one-trick pony that some may expect.

There’s a reason why this album topped numerous year-end lists at the time (which included Rolling Stone Magazine, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and even The Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop critics poll) and eventually become her most commercially successful album to date (selling over one million copies to date), as this album blends her signature dark, Nick Cave-esque poetry with blues music and punk into ten pristinely theatrical alternative rock standards, all the while proofing the massive hype developed from Rid of Me is legitimate. She may tune down the aggression and melodrama and incorporate electronica and acoustic rock with her work in the cult classic Is This Desire?, and later shifted to various directions, from polished pop-rock in the Mercury Award-winning Stories from the City… , scrappy indie-rock in Uh Huh Her, the piano-based folk in White Chalk to the folk-infused art-rock in Mercury Award-winning Let England Shake and even blues-based arena rock in The Hope Six Demolition Project, but To Bring You My Love remains her towering masterpiece that tied with Rid of Me, as it not only showed her astounding songwriting and vocal talent, but also her performance talent as a solo artist and compatibility with a massive array of musicians. Like Liz Phair did in Exile In Guyville, not only Harvey presented her aggressive sexuality at its earnest in this 1995 masterpiece, but also her more vulnerable side as well, yet she arranged and presented them in majestic grandeurs, paving ways for numerous singer/songwriters to utilize their sexuality and weaknesses as their strength and use production wizardry to enhance the effect. She may no longer be the red dress siren like the cover suggests, but Polly Jean Harvey already solidify herself as a force to be reckoned with by portraying humanity’s darkest secrets flawlessly with this 1995 classic, as sheer sinister and melodrama have never sound so visceral, raw and beautiful ever since. It’s one of music’s darkest and finest hours at the wake of the death of Harvey’s loyal fan Kurt Cobain himself, while being a sonic emblem of the 1990s and probably the aural crowning jewel of 1995 alongside with Portishead’s Dummy.

Actual Rating:5.0/5

Personal Favourites:
To Bring You My Love
Meet Ze Monsta
C’mon Billy
Long Snake Moan
Down by the Water
Send His Love to Me
The Dancer



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SherlockChris9021
February 7th 2019


157 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I originally wanted to ditch the plan for reviewing another PJ Harvey album after I finished the Stories From The City album, but when I found out that I kept spinning this album, and it didn't get a 5 review that it deserves, I decided to do it myself.



As always, any constructive criticisms are welcomed.

ArsMoriendi
February 7th 2019


25355 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Best album of the 90s tbh



This album has it all: serious and emotional moments, quirky and irreverent moments, beautiful and diverse blues instrumentation with an orchestra to back it up when needed. It's dark, it's dry, it's kick ass.



I couldn't write a review for this without sounding like a bleeding heart fan.



You favorites list might be too long though... I mean I love everything on here a lot too, but I try to not go over 3 favorites unless it's like a double album just because it's clunky looking

Digging: Depeche Mode - Black Celebration

ArsMoriendi
February 7th 2019


25355 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Also, this review rules.

conesmoke
February 7th 2019


5936 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Best album. Flood outdid himself here. Will probz whip this up later at work for a read

ArsMoriendi
February 8th 2019


25355 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

C'mon Billy is probably my favorite PJ song as sappy as it is, it's so perfect

SherlockChris9021
February 8th 2019


157 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love that song, but Long Snake Moan is a real treat for me, one of my favorite Top 10 PJ song. That guitar burst gives me a really strong sensation.

hamid95
February 8th 2019


632 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Wonderful review! Personally, I'd tone the frequent comparisons to Rid of Me and other works a bit down and let the album be the main focus, but it's such an extensive text that you do also cover it thoroughly.



Love, love, love this album.

DePlazz
February 9th 2019


1341 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

PJ Harvey is sex



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