"Uh Huh Her": not an album to forget

June 27, 2004, midnight | By Emma Zachurski | 19 years, 9 months ago

PJ Harvey returns with another memorable CD

"Uh Huh Her" is possibly singer songwriter P.J. Harvey's most diverse and musically accomplished work since her 1995 blues-rock, organ-backed, hard-hitting "To Bring You My Love." Breaking away from the almost completely pop-polished style of her previous album, "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea," "Uh Huh Her" is less of an image album and more of a creative project, that aims for and delivers complete music bliss. In "Uh Huh Her," Harvey merges her previous trademark musical specialties, which range from haunting lyrics and deep growling vocal tracks to falsetto moans and a never ending palette of mixed emotions that grace each track in an unforgettable manner.

Opening up with the boom of heavily charged low guitar chords, the stage is set for Harvey's first track of flat out sarcasm and dark humor, "The Life and Death of Mr. Badmouth." With lyrics such as "Baby, you got a bad bad mouth...Someone outta rinse it out with soap," sung in a teasingly facetious tone, "The Life and Death of Mr. Badmouth" stands out from the rest of the CD's more histrionic mood. With a surprisingly catchy chorus ("Wash it out, Wash it out," sung continuously in a stretched out way) and the kind of in-your-face distorted guitar playing that put Harvey on the map back in the mid-nineties, "The Life and Death of Mr. Badmouth" effectively grabs all the attention needed for the powerful opening of "Uh Huh Her."

After the buildup of playful aggression, Harvey breaks it all down for the sorrowful and lost love themed "Shame." With a soothing guitar strum pattern, strong but subtle drumbeat (à la the electronic inspired "Is This Desire?" days of Harvey), and a vocal roller coaster of pitches and tones, "Shame" enchants and sparks an air of despondence. The lyrics are highly chilling, especially as Harvey repeatedly croons, "Shame, shame, shame, shame is the shadow of love", and add to the regretful demeanor of the song.

Embracing the absurd and less melodically-inviting, Harvey dives into a song entirely of her thrashing hard rock spirit that was embossed in the early portion of her musical career. Such as fellow "Uh Huh Her" tracks "The Life Of Mr. Badmouth" and "Cat on the Wall," Harvey uses sarcastic comic sense and almost completely irrational lyrics ("Get your comb out of there! Combin' out my hair!"), to create an amusing and grin inducing shanty of a song.

Quickly shifting into a softer mood, Harvey churns out a lyrical and vocal tour-de-force in appreciation of youth and a fear of aging and its responsibilities in "The Pocket Knife." Following this refreshing timidly self-righteous piece comes "The Letter", a song with a pop charm in its instrumental track and an eerie, if not grim vocal harmonies. However, "The Letter" is nothing short of cheery compared to what comes next. "The Slow Drug" is very well the most hypnotizing and dark piece on all of "Uh Huh Her." With a pizzicato violin accompaniment that sounds of a beating heart and lyrics that are comparable to Edgar Allan Poe ("See this winged boy falling, falling out of something, hits the drug I'm needing."), "The Slow Drug" creeps into the eye of despair and never fully departs.

Henceforth on the album, each track continues to muddle through the vast world of sentiments bursting from Harvey's instrumental arrangements and words, each one unique and cherishable for its own reason. "It's You" is a ballad that exudes a dramatic array of grief and frustration, while "The Desperate Kingdom Of Love" is a breathtaking acoustic track with vocals that wilt with heartbreak and end with lyrics of hope ("..And I'll become a girl, in the desperate kingdom of love.") Then there's also the more Patti Smith-inspired sound of the brief but impressionable "No Child of Mine."

As "Uh Huh Her" opens with a gust of life, it ends with the raspy and no apologies attitude of "The Darker Days of Me and Him." Nothing could close the album more adequately then the words, "I'll pick up the pieces, I'll carry on somehow...Limp this love around." Before its dramatic climax, "Uh Huh Her" is an album which mostly acknowledges the lows of life in a beautifully somber way, but in the end Harvey's lyrics express a new found fulfilment with the state of things. Thus, the adjective for "Uh Huh Her" is "complete": it's an album that puts in so much effort and delivers out even more artistic and audio beauty for its audience, a win-win situation.

"Uh Huh Her" has a Parental Advisory for explicit lyrics.

Emma Zachurski. Emma has lead a bohemian lifestyle ever since her birth to an eccentric pair of a journalist and an artist. She is now currently a senior and looks forward to another great year with Silver Chips Online! Her spare time is best spent listening to … More »

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