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Album review: PJ Harvey’s ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’

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Annie Zaleski

Three stars

PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project

Polly Jean Harvey’s career has been marked by insatiable musical restlessness and piercing explorations of emotional and physical disorientation. In recent years, she’s turned her attention to global issues: New album The Hope Six Demolition Project—which Harvey and collaborators pieced together in part during a public museum installation—is an extension of 2011’s political-minded Let England Shake. Inspired by trips to Washington, D.C., and Afghanistan, the album chronicles oppression and poverty via a soundtrack of burly saxophone, bluesy electric guitars and hollowed-out gang-vocal melodies. Unfortunately, Hope Six is curiously dispassionate: Its songs are so focused on observing surface injustices, they neglect to establish an emotional connection or analyze this inequality with any depth. More songs like the “The Wheel,” a Stooges-esque proto-punk twist with syncopated handclaps, would have improved things. When Harvey pleads, “Hey, little children, don’t disappear,” the urgency and anguish linger long after the song ends.

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