PJ Harvey strums heavy, angry rock chords as she sings ponderously, questioning whether the Ministry of Defense had become ruins in a 30-second clip announcing her intention to put out a new album in spring 2016. The video also shows the singer walking around a crumbling, deteriorating building with Roman columns, staring at a tank fallen into a river at the foot of a mountain and writing in a notebook among rusty wreckage, all of which adds to the urgency of her lyrics. Filmmaker Seamus Murphy, who created videos for songs on Harvey’s 2011 album Let England Shake, made the clip.
To gather inspiration for the LP, the singer-songwriter visited Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. She recorded it in a month-long, public “Recording in Progress” residency at the Somerset House in London, where fans could watch her work with her band and producers on the songs. Tickets to see her craft the album sold out quickly.
“I want ‘Recording in Progress’ to operate as if we’re an exhibition in a gallery,” Harvey said in a statement at the time. “I hope people will see the attention and the labor and the care that goes into making a recording. I hope people will see the interactions between everyone involved.”