The Scotsman - 27th August 1998
PJ Harvey
Jaffa Cake
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If Polly Harvey’s muse ever takes human form, I for one will start avoiding dark alleyways. Never one to confuse noise with power, Harvey’s music has an inimitable quality whose components are tightly controlled guitars, splenetic percussion and words which swing between the biblical and the poetic. But there’s something else too, some kind of ju-ju that goes beyond that. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand and its terrible beauty hangs around her like a smell. In the packed hot Jaffa Cake 600 noses were working overtime.

She is dressed in a blood-red top, a thin black skirt and high-heeled shoes. her mess of curly black hair is cut severely across her forehead but spills down over her shoulders and her envelope of a mouth is outlined in crimson. When is opens, she bawls, barks, croons and cockles while around her the band drops its thorny aural barrages. The effect is devastating.

Every PJ Harvey song is an adventure and a journey, so (the new songs hit with a punch which equals that of, say, To Bring You My Love, or Meet Ze Monsta.) That not knowing where you are going is often more of a delight than knowing, highlights the depth of Polly Harvey’s gift.

Barry Didcock