.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/9dfa3da194974e45e9777aea965ad6e60b356f37.jpg Dance Hall At Louse Point

P.J. Harvey

Dance Hall At Louse Point

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
October 17, 1996

Ever since laying herself bare on the first PJ Harvey album, Dry, Polly Jean Harvey has been struggling to find a pose within which to hide. There was the bravado of "50 Ft. Queenie" on Rid of Me, then the flamenco drama of To Bring You My Love. Now we're supposed to think of Dance Hall at Louse Point as a collaborative project with multi-instrumentalist John Parish, a longtime scene-maker in Harvey's hometown of Yeovil, England, in whose band, Automatic Dlamini, Harvey once played in her pre-PJ days.

In fact, with her incredible, unmistakable voice, Harvey rules this record — although it's still a minor outing for her. Here she experiments, singing words she has written for someone else's music, trying on voices like hats. Harvey finishes "That Was My Veil" with a soprano trill, albeit a slightly sharp one. She's an ironic songbird (excruciatingly so on the cover of the Peggy Lee hit "Is That All There Is?"). On "Taut," the album's winning burst of Sonic Youth-style noise, she moans and rumbles like a guitar stabbed with a screwdriver.

Lyrically on Dance Hall at Louse Point, Harvey picks up where she left off on To Bring You My Love — more cryptic fables like scenes from a foreign film. I wish they had subtitles. Harvey still has a bad case of the blues, but where on Dry she was "Sheela-Na-Gig," showing off her insides, she's now frustratingly enigmatic, whispering her confessions like a guilty Catholic, disguising them with biblical allusions and sub-Nick Cave Gothic imagery ("City of No Sun," "Urn With Dead Flowers in a Drained Pool"). "Rope Bridge Crossing" describes a relationship that promised support but in which she was treacherously betrayed. Wronged love songs have become Harvey's stock in trade; no one sings the word lover more often, and with more passion and terror, than she.

Playing Tom Verlaine licks and favoring lots of percussion sounds, Parish comes across as a thinker (he's been a college teacher by day) and tinkerer. All this fucking around, in turn, brings out Harvey's pretentious side. Her gift for riffs and melodies is overcome by her art-rock affinities. Now more than ever, those Captain Beefheart influences and Kate Bush comparisons make sense. Appropriately, Dance Hall will be the basis of a dance piece touring Britain next year, with Parish and Harvey fronting a five-piece ensemble.

But I wish that Harvey would just pick up her guitar and form a new band. Because that is her best pose of all.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “I Was Made to Love Her”

    Stevie Wonder | 1967

    Stevie Wonder discovered true love while still a teenager, writing this ode to young love when he was only 17. The song, Wonder explained, "kind of speaks of my first love, to a girl named Angie, who was a very beautiful woman. She's married now. Actually, she was my third girlfriend but my first love. I used to call Angie up and we would talk and say, 'I love you, I love you,' and we'd talk and we'd both go to sleep on the phone.” The Beach Boys, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston and Boyz II Men have all recorded versions of "I Was Made to Love Her."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com