The Hope Six Demolition Project is the ninth album by PJ Harvey. It is her first album since 2011’s Mercury Music Prize winning Let England Shake. The songs were created in sessions that were open to the public as part of an art installation at London’s Somerset House in 2015. From snippets we’ve heard it sounds like she has returned to the punchy and riff-heavy indie-rock of albums such as Dry, Rid of Me and Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea. Should be good then!
7/10 mr pearls brain Customer review, 6th July 2016
PJ Harvey has set the bar incredibly high in recent years, with each album being a handbrake turn away from its predecessors. We expect her to bowl us over every time. Instead, this album has had mixed reviews. Yes it's a little bit similar to the previous album - Let the World Shake, if you will. Yes it's a little bit preachy and offers no solutions. Yes, The Community of Hope is really annoying. But turn it up, and listen, and the sheer power of these songs with their heavy brass arrangements will knock you over. She's still got it.
7/10 Chris Customer review, 19th April 2016
There is a large photograph of a valley in Afghanistan that graces the gatefold opening of this record. What could have been a Discovery Channel-friendly pic of snow capped Eurasian mountains is met with a brutal vista of burnt cars and twisted metal scattered across a vacant valley floor. At its centre is PJ Harvey, hood up and slumped over an empty pad of paper, staring emptily into the distance.
The overwhelming effect of this image is deliberate. Harvey spent months travelling the world is search of warzones and destitution to inspire her follow-up to Let England Shake, but in the cold face of human depravity, she seems to have only been given a kick the gut.
It is impossible not to compare Hope Six to her last release; both seek to achieve the same purpose, although this album on a global stage. Let England Shake found Harvey recording in her native Dorset singing songs about her own nation and the result was compelling - not just in its anger but also in its clarity. Harvey knew exactly what she was writing about because she was a part of her own narrative.
The Hope Six Demolition Project does not achieve this, and indeed it cannot. The opening track The Community of Hope has already found criticism for making such strong remarks on a neighbourhood Harvey is so far removed from personally. A Line in the Sand tracks Harvey's inner musings on the horrors of a refugee camp but closes with the lines 'What we did? Why we did? I make no excuse - I believe we have a future to do something good.' Such a trite sentiment rings hollow and I can't help but wonder who the 'we' is referring to after Harvey criticised the West so harshly on her last offering
By the end of the record though, we find Harvey inside a car a travelling through Afghanistan lost for words as a boy begs on the street. The rough saxophone solo and extended periods of Seamus Heaney's found footage on Dollar, Dollar create a slow sense of helplessness that doesn't build to a climax but fizzles away and closes the album in complete silence.
Don't get me wrong, there are some great moments on this album. The Ministry of Defense, River Anacostia and The Wheel in particular are all fantastic, but I can't escape that crushingly overwhelming feeling that permeates this record. Ultimately, this seems to be all Harvey was able bring home from her time abroad.
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- The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey
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