Brilliant, enigmatic recluse PJ Harvey’s latest is the sound of a woman who has been left alone at a piano in a room with only a single window to remind her of her mortality. The problem is, the window is limited to the scenic view of a cliff, and she has been mentally preparing to jump to the breaking waves below for far too long now, if she hasn’t already. Cue images of Sylvia Plath, overflowing bathtubs, unanswered phones, unkempt rose gardens and wilting foliage. Haunting, piercing vocals set to piano and autoharp is the unsettling, lone color palette here, and Harvey has painted a harrowing, sepia-toned mural; pieces of one’s life, ripped page by page, medicated tumult (“When Under Ether”), wounded cries of “nobody’s listening” (“The Piano”), and ghostly vocals of restless spirits. Spine-tingling and funereal indeed, but challenging as always, and that’s how we like our PJ. I just hope she’s alright this time. Time to put the kettle on. (Island) –Carrie Alison

  1. [...] (who also helmed Harvey’s landmark 1995 effort To Bring You My Love, and 2007′s unsettling White Chalk), Mick Harvey and John Parish, Let England Shake was “recorded in a 19th Century church in [...]