These days, when inspiration strikes, musicians can utitilze the flexibility and affordability of home-recording technology. Polly Jean Harvey, whose songs are the aural equivalent of manic-depressive episodes, goes the whole DIY hog on her latest album, not only playing all the instruments (except drums) and recording at home, but wrapping it in self-photographed portraits and scrawled snippets from her recording diary.
The title is a lexical approximation of the album’s rhythmic crudity, best characterized by the punchy, dirty “Who the F**k?,” which is either a parody of, or tribute to, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. It’s a stand-out track, though. The record’s themes mostly cover Harvey’s usual romantic obsessions. Sound-wise, it ranges from the turgid blues of “The Life and Death of Mr. Badmouth” to the minimalist instrumental “The End,” dedicated to Vincent Gallo. The intensity of the performances are augmented by the inventiveness of the recording process. “Vox under a blanket or duvet,” goes one of the hand-written recording directives. “Scare myself” goes another. It makes a great alternate title.
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