Releases of the week named: PJ Harvey, Venkov’s Playlist and MC Senechka


PJ Harvey / Inside the Old Year Dying

British Polly Jean Harvey returned to her fans with a song album seven years after the release of The Hope Six Demolition Project. A long silence, however, can hardly be called a strange act, if we are talking about such an unsystematic artist as PJ Harvey. The new album may not have happened at all. Some time ago, the singer stated in an interview about her loss of connection with music and the resulting desire to restructure all activities.

This is what was done. In 2019, the artist released the soundtrack to the play All About Eve by the Belgian avant-garde director Ivo van Hove, with ten instrumental tracks and two songs performed by the actors involved in the production. There was also a poetry collection Orlam, where the singer tried to talk about herself. And in the end, it was the book of poems that became the basis of the new disc. The album was co-authored by John Parish, with whom Polly Jean’s first steps in music are associated, and producer Mark Ellis, better known as Flood, is a very significant figure in the global industry, recording quite important albums by U2, Depeche Mode, Smashing Pumpkins and many others.

In defining the genre of PJ Harvey, critics at one time chose the term “alternative rock”. It must be admitted that such a designation regularly comes to the aid of journalists in a situation where it is very difficult to attribute an artist to one thing. The singer’s main method is not to repeat herself as much as possible, which, of course, confuses and confuses all the cards.

Inside the Old Year Dying is another reincarnation of PJ Harvey. The album turned out to be primarily poetic and rather stingy with musical means. In essence, this is a story about the life of a girl named Ira-Abel Rawls, accompanied by keyboards and guitar, but the incredible energy of the singer’s voice turns the songs into a chilling thriller about childhood fears of going to school, pubertal suffering and attitudes towards death. The ghosts of Shakespeare and Joan of Arc roam somewhere nearby.

PJ Harvey whispers like in a horror movie, brings falsetto to the edge of human capabilities, and the swiftness of such combinations creates the effect of immersion in an eerie fairy tale. Staying in it for a long time is not very comfortable, but it is this discomfort that can be a good kick to wake up from a long stay in warm syrup, which is so reminiscent of the albums of some Beyonce or Taylor Swift.

MS Senechka / Loop

Four years ago, Semyon Liseychev, a young man from Syzran, managed to laugh at modern rap, and this joke was well appreciated. On the first two albums (“Hip-Hop-Budni” and “1989”), the musician seemed to return to the early nineties and recalled the times when Bad Balance and MC Pavlov gave out their first big hits, when wide trousers were a sign of a new musical civilization, and finally, when no one knew about autotune. Two releases made Semyon very popular under the nickname MC Senechka, and under his “Headbanger” even those who should not have done so under any circumstances famously jumped.

Years later, the already grown-up rapper presents a big new album Loop, where nostalgia for the nineties is fairly diluted with the desire to take new heights. The intention is more than logical, because even Evgeny Petrosyan could not make him laugh twice with the same joke.

In addition, for any musician, the period when he could make songs using improvised means and enthusiasm is finally coming to an end. Loop, unlike previous recordings, was made with the involvement of a considerable number of people. On Dequine and Thomas Mraz’s feats, efforts can be heard in the arrangements, and the music itself has become much more diverse. Here, old and new school rap, groovy drum and bass and even pop music – what rapper does not want to hit the charts now.

One can discuss how all this suits the lyrical hero Semyon, so beloved by many for his naivety. There is a suspicion that not all and not very much. However, the desire to come up with your own sound, rather than hire a prestigious beatmaker, is unlikely to hurt anyone in the long run. True, not everyone understands this.

Playlist Venkova / Eternal Night EP

Among the local informals, post-punk is almost folk music, so bands with such a sound are always welcome. “Playlist Venkov” originated in St. Petersburg in 2016 as a duet of vocalist and guitarist Nikita Venkov and bass guitarist Dmitry Besov. The musicians have been going to the first full-fledged album for five whole years, but “Diary for a Hero” was probably worth taking your time.

The record did not become a hit, but some songs certainly spread through the airwaves and playlists. Post-punk is music intuitively familiar to many. You can hear the guitar of Yuri Kasparyan from Kino in it, there is an atmosphere of The Cure and Joy Division albums. This twilight seems to have been invented for those who even now refuse hip-hop and dance frenzy, preferring melancholy.

True, unlike many melancholics, Venkov’s Playlist went much further than guitar squares and black clothes. To all the external attributes of the genre, they managed to add very tenacious songs, consisting of pleasant melodies and meaningful lines in spite of all beats and hooks. On the second album “Scissors of Time”, the author’s ambitions were again embodied in memorable songs, and the musicians approached the fresh release as a full-fledged group that can give groovy concerts.

“Eternal Night” is only four songs, but each of them seems to report something important. These messages, frankly, are not encouraging, primarily because even the titles of some tracks (“Abandoned City”, “Wind”) refer to news releases, and the escapism typical of post-punk has now become a religion for many. The saturation of darkness here, of course, is kept under control. The music sometimes hints at a much more frivolous synth-pop and even deep house. But all this does not cancel the feeling of the loss of the last illusions, who settled in the music of everyone who is able to feel something.

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