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Being a former member of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds and frequent collaborator and producer for PJ Harvey, it would’ve been something of a surprise if Mick Harvey’s (no relation to PJ) first fully self-penned record was full of light-hearted Brit School kitchen sink jangle. But even for something as gothic-titled as ‘Sketches from the Book of the Dead’, this is a troubled time. Each song tells the story of one of Harvey’s close friends who has slipped off this mortal coil, painted only in shades of black with plenty of macabre imagery and pregnant pauses. It’s frequently a beautifully moving and sombre experience – ‘A Place Called Passion’ complements much of PJ Harvey’s latest LP – but Mick Harvey is, unfortunately, a more one-dimensional songwriter than his more famous collaborators: there is no Cave-esque dark humour, nor Peej-style weirdness – and across an entire album, it shows.

By Sam Walton

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