PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

PJ Harvey

The Hope Six Demolition Project (2016)

ISLAND


What is it that makes PJ Harvey so intoxicating? The Hope Six Demolition Project finds me asking myself this quite a bit because it's not one of her works I can say I'm into because of its musical inclination. Yet I find myself listening just for the sociopolitical commentary as opposed to the melodic novel at hand. Her statements are more missives than verses and choruses. They're raw, candid, unfiltered and relevant. Not to mention necessary in a world filled with nonsensical drivel, media frenzies and a circus of artists that lack the compelling and engagement factor crafted by such visionaries, which is a word I don't toss around much. This piece of storytelling, however, is indeed a work of art -- collaboratively linking film, poetry and photography to a project whose scope ranges from Washington to Kosovo to Afghanistan, garnering political backlash along the way. Not straying too off topic, it's a record that touches, subtly at times and not so subtly at others, on the many eras of PJ Harvey. The brainchild of this album stems back to a live recording session with her drawing inspiration from the audience and the emotional heft it possesses comes out with ease as it addresses several global issues with her gaze shifting from England. 

With harmonicas, violins and saxophones all included, it's clear how exploratory she wants things as each composition feels dignified in calling out the powers-that-be. The swath of problems and lack of solutions can be found on "The Community of Hope" in the opening track. Jangly and simple in terms of musical structure. In contrast, complexity rears its head on the clap-along of "The Wheel". Her words on the kids lost in the Kosovo battlefield are as grimy, introspective and personal as can be with her chorus backing up. I love how she comes off brash, inflecting her opinions on something so bleak and dramatic, yet she fades into a sense of optimism as the track winds down and flows into the other songs. A lot of this record indicates why she'll never be the emblematic voice of our generation but why thematically she still needs to have a platform and a loud mic. Makes you wonder if we deserve music like this calling out out leaders on their bullshit. Again, the simplicity of the music allows her to wade in fully.

"The Orange Monkey" continues her views on foreign lands over another soothing melody draped with muddled, distant vocals -- echoing the pain which the preceding tracks emanate. It's a great example of how she croons in dissecting, deconstructing and inquiring. Intimacy and ideals follow on "A Line In The Sand" where she waxes smoothly over with her voice hitting falsettos that gripped us in the '90s. That said, while most tracks are jarring and take us for that spin that FOX, CNN and BBC try to (loosely speaking), some of the songs slip by and feel a bit tedious. Like growers that you'll have to get accustomed to. I won't say they're a chore but you do have to be in a mood. It's an album you probably come home, kick socks off to, pour a glass of whatever and sit by the fireside to listen with your shirt and tie ruffled. Not something for the morning traffic to leave you frustrated as fuck as you enter the office. 

But without spoiling too much, I can safely say that The Hope Six Demolition Project  a record that's unabashed in its heart and soul and unadulterated in terms of how poignant her notes are. It's non-formulaic and filled with a sense of hope and belief. PJ Harvey singing about these things and building to reclamation and salvation is totally worth the trip. For fanboys and those who aren't. We need more of this in the world today.