The last time this hugely talented British singer-songwriter-musician toured she adopted an extreme, but sexy stage persona that caricatured glamour. And as much as Harvey now says she was "quite lost as a person then," a lot of that haunted quality has remained on her mesmerizing fifth album which details both the frail and furious fallout of desire.
Especially on the exquisite first song, Angelene, a character about whom Harvey moans is the "prettiest mess you’ve ever seen," and later on ‘The Garden’ and ‘The River’, both which build slowly over a sweet-sounding piano.
Equally entrancing are the draggy, trip-hop number ‘Joy’, "Joy was her name, A life un-wed, Thirty years old, Never danced a step." and the stripped-down, bluesy Catherine in which Harvey rages quietly: "’Til the light shines on me, damn to hell every second you breathe."
This time out there’s more wide-ranging textures and moods, compared to her usually rougher, rawer sound. And some of the material is definitely more accessible than others with such songs as the sluggish ‘Electric Light’ and the noisy ‘No Girl So Sweet’ never quite taking off. Harvey also isn’t afraid of abrupt changes in mood. Listen to her shriek, Patti Smith-like, on ‘The Sky Lit Up’ before abruptly switching to a whisper it’s almost like you’re listening to two different people. Maybe you are.