Guilty (PJ Harvey song)

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A black-and-white photograph of a sculpture of a two-headed dog.
Single by PJ Harvey
Released13 July 2016 (2016-07-13)
FormatDigital download
RecordedJanuary 2015 (2015-01) at Somerset House in London, England
GenreAlternative rock, experimental rock[1]
Songwriter(s)PJ Harvey
PJ Harvey singles chronology
"The Orange Monkey"

"Guilty" is a song by the English alternative rock musician PJ Harvey. Recorded during the sessions for her ninth studio album The Hope Six Demolition Project, it was released as a non-album single on 13 July 2016 on Island Records.

Origin and recording[edit]

"Guilty" was recorded during the sessions for PJ Harvey's ninth studio album, The Hope Six Demolition Project (2016). The sessions were held in a purpose-built studio in Somerset House in London, England from 15 January to 14 February 2015 as part of Recording in Progress,[2] where members of the public could observe the sessions through one-way glass at 45-minute intervals. Several publications listed "Guilty" as among the song titles written on a wall chart in the studio during the first week of the sessions,[3][4] and the track was finished by the end of January, according to the single's official press release.[2]

Flood and John Parish produced the sessions for The Hope Six Demolition Project. In a feature interview in Uncut a month prior to the album's release, Flood described the recording process of "Guilty as "fascinating" and "one of the discovery songs" where he and Parish "could push forward into a new territory." Flood was experimenting with contact microphones during the song's sessions, using them to record percussionist Kenrick Rowe's tom-tom drum and processing the signal through a whammy effects pedal. A second experiment featured Flood manipulating the pitch of the tom drum through an electric-guitar amplifier.[5]

However, "Guilty" was not included on the final track listing of The Hope Six Demolition Project. Explaining the situation, Flood said:

"[As] the session went on, ["Guilty"] became quite a difficult song to get to the place where Polly, John and I felt it should go. By the end of the process, even though it was finished, it felt a little bit outside the rest of the material—as if it had come from a different place in time. The record felt stronger as a body of work for not having it on."[5]

Lyrics and music[edit]

"Guilty" was written by Harvey and has a length of three minutes and 55 seconds. According to the International Standard Musical Work Code database, the song's official title is "He Must Be Guilty", with "Guilty" registered as an alternate title.[6] It has been described as "dark [and] dramatic" by Exclaim!,[7] with Consequence of Sound adding that the subject matter of drone strikes by the United States "[calls] out the unfairness in what we label justice" and "fits well within the core concept" behind The Hope Six Demolition Project;[8] Paste said the song's lyrics "frankly condemns what is believed to be justice and equality in the global perspective."[9]

Harvey's vocals on "Guilty" are in a lower register than most of her recordings on White Chalk (2007), Let England Shake (2011) and The Hope Six Demolition Project, on which she "predominantly used her hauntingly distanced upper register rather than the gravelly blues-steeped style" of her earlier material, according to Flavorwire.[10]

Release and reception[edit]

"Guilty" was released as a non-album single on 13 July 2016; it was released only as a digital download. The single's cover art features a black-and-white photograph of a sculpture of a two-headed dog (possibly Cerberus); the artwork was designed by Michelle Henning,[2] who was the art director and cover-art designer of The Hope Six Demolition Project.[11]

Critical response to "Guilty" was largely positive. Les Inrockuptibles referred to the song "intense and lyrical" and said it was a "perfect bonus that extends an already impeccable record [The Hope Six Demolition Project]."[12]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download
  1. "Guilty" (PJ Harvey) – 3:55


All personnel credits adapted from Deezer.[13]

Technical personnel
  • Flood – production, mixing
  • John Parish – production
  • Adam "Cecil" Bartlett – recording, mix engineering
  • Caesar Edmunds – mix engineering
  • Rob Kirwan – recording
  • Drew Smith – mixing
  • John Dent – mastering
Design personnel
  • Michelle Henning – artwork


  1. ^ Kaye, Ben (13 July 2016). "PJ Harvey shares politically-charged new song "Guilty" — listen". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "New Song, 'Guilty'". PJ Harvey. 12 July 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  3. ^ Mulvey, John (20 January 2015). "Reviewed! PJ Harvey: January 20, 2015, 1300-1345". Uncut. Time UK. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  4. ^ Britton, Luke Morgan (20 February 2015). "PJ Harvey selling lyric sheet replicas from new album for £50". NME. Time UK. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b Bonner, Michael (March 2016). "It's War! PJ Harvey: The inside story of her explosive new album". Uncut. Time UK.
  6. ^ "Title: "He Must Be Guilty"". International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC). International Organization for Standardization. Retrieved 13 July 2016. NB To access the ISWC listing the user must select their preferred language and accept the terms and conditions, select "ISWC" from the drop-down list under Search for, enter "T-915.515.039-3" in the text area and click Search.
  7. ^ Murphy, Sarah (13 July 2016). "PJ Harvey, "Guilty"". Exclaim!. 1059434 Ontario. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  8. ^ Kaye, Ben (13 July 2016). "PJ Harvey shares politically-charged new song "Guilty" — listen". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  9. ^ Suchman, Kurt (13 July 2016). "PJ Harvey Shares Previously Unreleased Song, "Guilty" :: Music :: News". Paste. Wolfgang's Vault. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  10. ^ Halperin, Moze (13 July 2016). "PJ Harvey Halway Returns to Her Older Sound in Her Feverish New Track, "Guilty"". Flavorwire. Flavorpill Media. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  11. ^ The Hope Six Demolition Project (Album notes). PJ Harvey. Island Records. 2016. 4773758.CS1 maint: others (link)
  12. ^ Benabs, Ana (13 July 2016). "PJ Harvey nous envoûte avec un titre inédit" [PJ Harvey bewitches us with an unreleased song]. Les Inrockuptibles (in French). Les Nouvelles Editions Indépendantes. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Guilty – PJ Harvey". Deezer. Blogmusik SAS. Retrieved 14 July 2016.