search for something...

search for something you might like...

I Inside the Old Year Dying Tim London listens to the long awaited comeback LP from PJ Harvey

I Inside the Old Year Dying

Tim London listens to the long awaited comeback LP from PJ Harvey

by Tim London,
first published: July, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

One of the problems for artists who came up during the 1990s is the desperate need of the now-40+ somethings to have their own legion of stardust sprinkled icons. This results in, say the mass karaoke performances of Pulp's velvet suited live return

Harvey LPPJ HARVEY
I Inside The Old Year Dying
(Partisan Records)
favoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_borderfavorite_border

Listening to the sombre songs of I Inside the Old Year Dying it can feel like reading mood notes left on a mantlepiece, written by someone slightly distracted with every day existence - tending the garden, shopping, telly and chats with a small group of friends. Perhaps this would explain the slightly detached, puzzled pervading air. Ironically the song titles are more assured and promise more than the music.

Sung in a purer than Patti Smith croon and with instrumentation that occasionally reminds me of the psych folk that manifested so thoroughly in Paul Giovani’s imagined bucolic world of Olde Britain soundtrack for The Wicker Man. There are other connections with, for instance, the pulsating mono-synth lines of Silver Apples, subtly sitting under a couple of tracks. I also hear the Kinks’ Ray Davies at his most introspective and, somehow, an essence of the 1990s in the weary performances. Almost as if Polly is a bit fed up with PJ.

One of the problems for artists who came up during the 1990s is the desperate need of the now-40+ somethings to have their own legion of stardust sprinkled icons. This results in, say the mass karaoke performances of Pulp’s velvet suited live return or Blur’s recent return to the stage. Unfortunately Polly Harvey sits, perhaps uncomfortably, amongst these minor heroes who rode in on the horses of wilder and more original items from previous eras. Polly might actually, like Bjork and Jeff Buckley have a genuine right to the kind of iconic status that should be reserved for genuine originals. But I’m not sure.

The album takes itself seriously in the same way Radiohead albums do - self-referential and self-reverential, but unlike the Oxford proggies includes elements that suggest some fun was had, such as the zombie Bee Gee tracking the lead vocal on Autumn Term, which also includes the most fabulous use of playground sampling since Go! Team.

The production is… safely disappointing. There’s no sonic challenge, just what I presume is a fairly faithful recording of studio performance. So everything depends on if you are A PJ fan or not and I’m sort of not, still, despite listening with as little jaundice as possible. If the album was as interesting as Polly Harvey’s carefully honed persona (honed, admittedly, more by absence than hype) then it would truly be worth celebrating.


Essential Information
Main PJ Harvey image by Steve Gullick

Tim London

Tim London is a musician, music producer and writer. Originally from a New Town in Essex he is at home amidst concrete and grand plans for the working class. Tim's latest thriller, Smith, is available now. Find out more at timothylondon.com


about Tim London »»

RECENT STORIES

RANDOM READS

All About and Contributors

HELP OUTSIDELEFT

Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]

WRITE FOR OUTSIDELEFT

If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]

OUTSIDELEFT UNIVERSE

Ooh Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha May 29th
OUTSIDELEFT Night Out
weekend

outsideleft content is not for everyone