Photo: Maria Mochnacz

PJ Harvey – “The Wheel” (Singles Going Steady)

PJ Harvey is in peak political form, tackling issues that peek their heads in like conniving magicians ready to steal the world.

Maria Schurr: As stellar of a song as this is, it also sounds like the first time that Harvey is repeating herself. It’s like a Let England Shake song with a change in location, married to the warped blues tone that Harvey’s so good at. Then again, Let England Shake was one of this century’s most powerful artistic achievements; even a retooling of it bodes well for the year in music and Harvey’s upcoming The Hope Six Demolition Project in particular. At the same time, it’s gritty enough to be something that will cause those who didn’t like Let England Shake to rave. Ultimately pretty damned satisfying. [8/10]

Paul Duffus: PJ Harvey is an anomaly. Here is an artist, an actual artist(!), on a major label who creates interesting and provocative work. With its bluesy riffs, scuds of sax, and intimations of disappeared children, “The Wheel” is as chilling as it is compelling. [10/10]

Dustin Ragucos: Alas, the wheel keeps on turning, and with each spin a child goes missing. PJ Harvey is in peak political form, tackling issues that peek their heads in like conniving magicians ready to steal the world. Where a group like Rise Against posit their stands in an utmost cheesy manner, Harvey lays on the other end of the spectrum, displaying musical wisdom with each contrasting call and steadfast note. [7/10]

Jedd Beaudoin: I love heavy, dark PJ Harvey best but that doesn’t seem to be where she’s at here. At least not in the obvious ways. But this is one of her better pieces and well worth the wait. [8/10]

Kevin Korber: I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that PJ Harvey’s music has lacked some urgency for a while now. “The Wheel” is a slight step towards those older days, but it amicably chugs rather than thrashes. Having said that, above-average PJ Harvey is better than most of her imitators on a good day, so this return is quite welcome. [6/10]

Chad Miller: A softer take on rock which brings social commentary on 28,000 missing children. Harvey sings “Hey little children don’t disappear” as the rhythm leans in a way that it’s not far off base to imagine her shaking her finger at them playfully. Assisted by claps and a saxophone, the music balances a fun sounding upbeat chorus and a tense verse. Ultimately though, it’s the unflinching assessment of the wheel as an unstopping force, always ready to pick up more disasters in its path that really draws you in. [8/10]

Steve Horowitz: Harvey’s gonna tell you how it continues to be in a world where everything fades out instead of fades away. The song’s insistence on memory as witness has power, but the point gets lost. If everything is a wheel, then we are just going in circles. The video shows a grey world of children and destruction and the slivers of hope. It’s heavy stuff. [7/10]

SCORE: 7.71