How can someone so unpredictable behave so predictably? Every time PJ Harvey releases something sophisticated and clean like 2000's Mercury Music Prize tipped Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
, it just about guarantees a contradictory follow-up album is around the bend. Her ambitious 1992 debut, Dry
, inspired the bitter death rattle of Rid of Me
. Her third offering, 1995's elegant To Bring You My Love
, gave way to the stormy Is This Desire?
. Harvey's sixth solo album, Uh Huh Her
, doesn't disappoint. It's a nasty riposte to the success of its predecessor, built on grubby blues-punk riffs and the brooding, primal howl that Harvey uses when she wants to impersonate a she-wolf. Some of it seems disappointingly remedial ("The Letter," "Cat on the Wall"), but the best material ("The Desperate Kingdom of Love," "Who the Fuck?") just reconfirms that no matter how raw the British songwriter serves it up, the beauty of her work is undeniable. --Aidin Vaziri