The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages

Reviewed by Neph Basedow, August 12, 2016, Music

Accruing inspiration for her ninth LP, PJ Harvey scoured Washington, D.C.'s crime-ridden wards. The upshot, a titular reference to the public housing blueprint by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, takes the political POV of 2011's Let England Shake global. "The Community of Hope" feigns optimism, but yields sarcasm. "They're gonna put a Walmart here," fears the Dorset native, part whistleblower, part empathetic storyteller. "The Ministry of Defence" offers macabre scenes from the singer's visit to war-ravaged Kosovo. Like its predecessor, Hope's lyrics alone spur startling awe and fierce innovation.


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