This is likely PJ Harvey’s most immediate, accessible record, and it’s also one of her best. From the opening chords of “Bix Exit,” the album marries its striking cover with its oversized big-city sound, transplanting the British singer to New York City during a particularly fruitful musical period for the artist. That sense of relocation and discovery is all over each song, from “Good Fortune” to “The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore,” which highlight Harvey’s deft ear for grounded rock and her extraordinarily layered lyrics. Other songs, like “This Mess We’re In” and “A Place Called Home” instead focus inward, keeping the musical cues down to a minimum while centralizing mood and tone. By the time the album ends on the triumphant “We’ll Float,” you’ll be ready to hear it again.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)