Polly Jean Harvey can do almost anything she likes. I will surely like it anyway. She can scream as on "Rid of Me", she can be dramatic as on "To Bring You My Love", or she can be minimalistic as on "Is This Desire?". She can even be sophisticated as on "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea" – although not too often, thank you. She can be all these things, and still I will follow and think she maybe is the greatest female rock vocalist ever.
On that end, nothing has changed with "Uh Huh Her". The only difference from the earlier albums is that Polly Jean is all the things mentioned above – at once. Both the heavy guitars from "Rid of Me" and the very voice-focused approach from "Is This Desire?" can be found on "Uh Huh Her" and the question if this is a good thing or not has prevented me from finishing this review for almost a month (and I apologise to all readers of Release for this).
On one hand, the album can be described as the quintessence of P J's production so far, weaving together all the threads she has spun for twelve years. On the other hand, one could say the album lacks the focus and cohesion that has characterised Polly Jean’s earlier work.
I tend to go with the first line of thought, but I also think she could have reached a little further. She only threads safe ground here and although songs like "Who the Fuck" sounds great, they are not as innovative as I would have expected from this gifted woman.
Strangely, I also thought I missed the rougher side of her and have waited for the guitars from her first two albums for many years. Now, when they are back in some of the songs, I find that I actually like the calmer, more intense tunes – at least on "Uh Huh Her" – a lot better. Just listen to "Shame" and try not to get shivers down your spine.
A truly nice album. Great in parts. But as a whole, it leaves me wanting for more. You are still a rock goddess, Polly Jean. Just try to change and look forward on the next album, please?