‘Dry,’ ‘Endless,’ Hide and Seek: This Week’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. This week, we recommend two pieces revisiting PJ Harvey’s earlier albums, an article about the imperativeness of “declaring war” on climate change, and more.

I was lucky enough to get to see and write about PJ Harvey live in New York this week — though I ultimately found that the explosively excellent and commanding concert didn’t always best serve the material on Harvey’s last album, The Hope Six Demolition Project. That being said, it’s as good a time as any to celebrate her extensive catalog of wildly good work — and, perhaps in honor of her current tour, a few publications seem to have been doing just that. At Pitchfork, Laura Snapes wrote a review of her debut album, Dry:

Critics have theorized that she drowns herself at the end of the album, to rid the shame from her body. But it sounds more like a rebirth; the cure to her dryness, finding satisfaction on her own terms and eradicating the need she had looked to someone else to fill. Dry is an exciting, scary joyride through the dawning realization that learning to please yourself yields far greater pleasure than relying on others to do it for you: These gory myths are her lover’s discourse, an apocalypse—in the revelatory sense—that she would push even further on 1993’s Rid of Me (after her immediate fame resulted in a nervous breakdown).

Meanwhile, for The Rumpus, Stephen Akey wrote about Harvey’s 2000 album, Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea, and the particular experience of getting into the New York-centric work of brooding rock-pop following September 11:

It was my unsettling experience to acquire Stories from the City just before September 11, 2001. (The album had been recorded the year before.)…Rage, fear, and aggression had always been a big part of Harvey’s tonal register—too much so if, like me, you would have preferred a little less noise and a little more music in certain places on her first four records. I’ll never fully know whether the sonic aggression of Stories from the City represented a refinement of Harvey’s craft or whether it simply gave me what I needed to hear: someone calling to me from a place of similar anguish and fright. Not that Stories from the City was lacking in moments of love and lyricism. The amazing thing was that it encompassed both polarities. At once soothing and horrifying, it became for me the soundtrack of grief and hope for my wounded city and country.

Frank Ocean continued perplexing his fans by dropping a 45-minute visual album called Endless last night, instead of the expected Boys Don’t Cry — then suggesting that whatever Boys Don’t Cry was would still be coming this weekend, but that it wouldn’t be called Boys Don’t Cry. Of course, this time, people were happily perplexed, suddenly with 18 new tracks by Ocean on their hands. Fusion writers Tahirah Hairston and Kelsey McKinney wrote up a track-by-track exploration of the new material. Of the first track, they said:

“Device Control” Kelsey: I am gonna be real honest. The first time I played this video I thought it was going to be just more silent wood shop class and I was pissed. Tahirah: I was so pissed. I was like, not again, Frank, you won’t fool me like this. Then I heard his voice, and all was forgiven. Kelsey: From the beginning of this album, there’s a real emphasis on technology and phones? Tahirah: It’s interesting to have this track that’s about our obsession with devices and instant communication, while Frank is in the background doing making a staircase from scratch that is rooted in the idea of delayed gratification.

Quartz has an amusing article on a ghost town in Lombardy, Italy, that was created in 1968 by a developer aiming to bring a dose of Vegas to Italy — and leveling an ancient village to do so — and was abandoned only a decade later. The village will “come to life again” on September 3 and 4, however, to host a hide and seek championship:

Giorgio Moratti, a member of the organizing team, says the championship was first held in 2010 in Bergamo, Italy, as an initiative of CTRL Magazine, a local publication, but the scenery of Consonno as well as the abundance of hiding spots in the town’s many abandoned buildings won over the group. “Looking at those fields,” Moratti told Quartz, “we immediately imagined they’d be perfect to play hide and seek! And that was the beginning.”

Writing for The New Republic, Bill McKibbon declares the need to treat climate change as a war and mobilize:

We’re used to war as metaphor: the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on cancer. Usually this is just a rhetorical device, a way of saying, “We need to focus our attention and marshal our forces to fix something we don’t like.” But this is no metaphor. By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments.

In The New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe wrote a fascinating, extremely in-depth article on Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner’s influence on Donald Trump’s “campaign”:

For all the goofy charms of Eric (the golf-course expert) and Donald, Jr. (the force behind the unfortunately timed Trump Mortgages, which launched in 2007), Ivanka, who is thirty-four, is Donald’s clear favorite. She lends a veneer of professionalism to the campaign, giving speeches that portray her father, who once told New York, referring to women, “You have to treat ’em like shit,” as a Lean In-style feminist. In early August, Trump, pressed to name a woman he might appoint to his Cabinet, could think of only one: his daughter… Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, a thirty-five-year-old real-estate developer, who owns the New York Observer, has become what the Times described as Trump’s “de facto campaign manager.”… Ivanka has counselled Trump on his rhetoric and his policy choices, and Jared was instrumental in the running-mate selection.