Mick Harvey - FOUR (Acts Of Love)

Ex-Bad Seed becomes sad seed

FOUR (Acts Of Love)

Harvey’s last album, 2011’s
Sketches From The Book Of
The Dead, was a series of
ruminations on people and
places lost, and there’s
a similar delicate beauty to
FOUR (Acts Of Love). However,
the erstwhile Nick Cave and
PJ Harvey alumni only rarely
mines richer seams of
optimism in this song cycle
themed around romantic love.

Echoes of Harvey’s work
with The Bad Seeds haunt
many of the tracks, not least
the grandeur balladry of I Wish
That I Were A Stone (“like
gargoyles at the cathedral”),
though the starry-eyed
melodrama of Richard Hawley
is a stronger reference point
on the balletic opener Praise
The Earth. This is Harvey in
contemplative mood, sailing
a low-key stream of
consciousness fuelled by the
fragility of the human heart.

Though mostly self-penned,
the cycle does
appropriate other people’s
songs to drive the narrative;
Van Morrison’s The Way
Young Lovers Do is stripped
to a near-naked eulogy,
with voice accompanied
solely by a hymnal organ,
while a subdued version of
Roy Orbison’s Wild Hearts
Run Out Of Time plays its
part to signal the end of
a romance. More so than
anything in Harvey’s back
catalogue, FOUR impresses
with its purity, simplicity,
accessibility and lack of
pretension.  

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Mute | tbc (CD / LP)

Reviewed by Terry Staunton
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