Look, it’s PJ Harvey, right? If you already like her stuff, you will also like this and would benefit from buying it. If you don’t like her stuff, you won’t like this and purchasing it would frankly be an act of folly. If you haven’t heard her stuff, go out RIGHT NOW THIS INSTANT and buy Dry, Rid Of Me, To Bring You My Love and Is This Desire?. I’ll let you wait a bit before you buy the others – and I can assure you that you will wish to buy them after however long you define 'a bit' to be.
Is that all clear? You understand your orders?
Oh, you want, like, actual detail. Well: there’re tracks on here from every album (tracklisting here) except for Is This Desire? and …My Love. Plus, you get a few non-album tracks for your delight and delectation! Three of them, to be precise: ‘Wang Dang Doodle’, ‘Naked Cousin’ and ‘Losing Ground’. The first of these is a slow-building itch of a number, the bluesy vibrations growing and branching out in ever growing complexity which never quite does what you expect and never develops the dancefloor-filling qualities you keep expecting – but it’s none the worse for that.
‘Naked Cousin’ comes the closest of the three to having a tune – you could almost play it at a disco! Well, okay, maybe not. And ‘Losing Ground’ is a jerking, snatching and tense number, brimming over with not-quite-realised threat and vague frustrations – and the third bloody good tune of three bloody good tunes.
Of course, most of the songs on here aren’t new: they’re... not rawer, exactly, but sparser versions of album numbers. The bass comes through even more strongly, and the vocals stand out more (those who find satisfaction in lyric deciphering may well fill some holes in their comprehension with this). Any power that might’ve been sacrificed to the fast-paced recording process is regained through the primal edge this grants – the bass in particular sounds taunting, jeering, dark and incredibly vicious.
This stamp of a slightly different quality means this is an album one can easily listen through as a coherent, worthy whole – it fits and works together perfectly despite the fact that the songs showcase the development of a thirteen-year career – and it’s a career damn worth showcasing. This collection of Peel Sessions serves as a most welcome and convincing re-reminder of exactly how good PJ Harvey is; it's a record which has simple enjoyment merit as well as being of sound development/obsessive collectors item interest.
Which is ace, really, as simple, gut-instinct enjoyment is what music’s meant to be all about. And PJ Harvey – The Peel Sessions delivers admirably.