Radiohead and PJ Harvey – a study in awkwardness

by Accidental Bear

PJ, a special thanks to you for putting out a new album to get me through the year. There’s nothing like long train rides in the rain with PJ in your ear to help your  thoughts and self reflection leap forward and out.

GREAT READ

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via sosogay.org

 

PJ Harvey in Athens. Photograph: ‘Adamantios’ (via Wikimedia Commons)

1992: PJ Harvey releases Dry, and it is oh, very angry and very raw.

1993: Radiohead release Pablo Honey, which is marketed, bizarrely, with Beavis and Butt-head in mind:

Radiohead – better than Butt-head! Oxford England’s rowdiest new band. Huh-huh-huh, music that doesn’t suck. Featuring the self-loathing anthem ‘Creep’.

Who could have imagined that nearly two decades later, both artists would be releasing their eighth studio albums, in completely different ways but both with an enormous amount of critical acclaim? With the hype that comes with a new album, it could be that PJ Harvey’s  Let England Shakeand Radiohead’s The King of Limbs offers an introduction to the music of two of the UK’s most consistently surprising and interesting artists.

In the pioneering spirit that comes with a new band to listen to, this feature would ask – if it could talk to you – that you put down your iPad, turn your Kindle to kindling, shove all distractions aside and listen without prejudice, not just to these new remarkable albums but to the entire back catalogue of PJ and Radiohead. Of course, many out there would already be familiar with the music, but even so, let’s use this as an opportunity of discovery and re-discovery.

PJ Harvey, Madonna-like in her ability to change her style, is one of the most innovative performers of her generation. It’s hard to over-exaggerate the impact Polly has had on a music industry with few genuinely powerful female figures, especially powerful figures that remain relevant. Signed to a major record label for all her career, she has used her mental fragility as a key tool in her armour and sex, religion, death and love form the themes for many of her tracks.

Harvey uses her sexuality as a way to gain attention in the press and accompanies her music with striking visual identities; initially all legs and hairy armpits, she seems to change her dress sense in tandem with her moods. She’s currently rocking a selection of fetching gowns accessorised by equally fetching head dresses, extending her Victorian-themed look from ‘White Chalk’. The sombre look perfectly complements the sorrowful mood of Let England Shake, interested as it is in death and the futility of war. READ MORE

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