Is there a more powerful creative force at work in modern rock music than Polly Harvey?
It’s impossible to not admire the work she does. The wilfully inventive and interesting music she makes may not be what you immediately reach for when you wanna wail out some emotion at the top of your lungs while making a power grab in the shower… but she’s got you covered if that’s your MO.
She can also texture and sculpt sound into a hypnotic blend of modern feel over folk roots which you (or I at least) have to stop in my tracks and pay full attention to when it comes on.
When people describe artists with huge back catalogs and stylistic changes over that time they talk about them like Pokemon evolving (Oh I’m so out of my depth on this analogy). People refer to Bowie by his phases. Thin White Duke, Berlin, Ziggy etc. Tom Waits has balladeer and bat shit crazy as his two phases. Well Peej has worn several skins during her time as a recording artist too.
So there’s the Long Snake Moan PJ Harvey, there’s the Rid Of Me and the Big Exit PJ Harvey and there’s the fully grown mature woman poet laureate of art rock PJ Harvey making England Shake and White Chalk proclamations which are undeniably both high art and the rightful future of indie.
The fury she unleashed like an elemental in her earlier recordings spoke to a generation of Riot Grrls (and Bois) on track like Dress. The Mercury nominated slinky glamorous Hustler was a bit more BBC friendly but just as credible and honest.
The big shiny era could only last so long. Polly held the gaze of the indie world while she crooned along with Nick Cave and Mark Lanegan and the long haul fans love just deepened for her incredible voice and her way with a melody.
She’s absolutely awesome (in the true sense of the word) and so is Written On The Forehead.