“The Glorious Land” was taut and simple, with the exception of a littering of crude shards of a trumpet reveille that announced the causes of global strife — and sees “tanks and feet” marching outward toward the “victory” of destruction. “The Wheel,” however, is chaotic and propulsive, with saxophone spurting like open wounds across the song. If “The Glorious Land” sonically captured the rigid plans for military violence that ultimately lead to chaos, “The Wheel” sounds like it takes place in the thick of it. All of Harvey’s Let England Shake sounded like contemplation from afar, reeling at an abstract glimpse into the massacre of history. (Harvey had discussed developing the right voice for that album — and that she’d chosen one that was austerely neutral, almost aloof, allowing the harrowing lyrics to sneak right up on you and gun you down).
In a press release announcing her book of poetry — the one attached to The Hope Six Demolition Project — Harvey says, “Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about.” With its raging, 80-second intro, clapped rhythm, and whirling, dizzying pace, “The Wheel” certainly does away with that remove. If “The Glorious Land” contemplated the toll omnipotent militarism might take on the young — and how they might thereafter perpetuate the legacy — “The Wheel” gets within the scene of violence; that scene may bear some concrete details relating to her experience in Kosovo, but it also happens to sound like everywhere, all at once.