P J Harvey
Is This Desire?
Well, kids, Miss Polly Jean has done it again. The fifth P J Harvey album, Is This Desire? is just as intense, beautiful and stunning as the band's previous releases. It draws from each of the distinct sounds of the earlier records, yet presents an entirely new element of P J Harvey.
The opening track, the melodic "Angelene," perhaps the best song on the album, is only a glimpse of what is to follow. The twelve tracks ebb and flow from a loud, rockin' Rid of Me flavor ("The Sky Lit Up" and single release "A Perfect Day for Elise") to a chill, bass and drum-driven To Bring You My Love feel ("Electric Light," "The Garden"), with a couple of raw, 4-Track Demos-esque tunes ("No Girl So Sweet").
All the while, Is This Desire? lyrically explores nature, sex, the Bible, bodies and lust like an eerie medieval painting similar to thematic style of Dry.
In "The River" Harvey sings: "And we walked without words/ And we walked with our lives/ two silent birds/ circled by/ like our pain in the river..." Each track of the album, however, contains some of all of these elements, resulting in a smooth, loungy feel with definite edge.
Harvey, who in the past has won Best Songwriter and Artist of the Year awards from Rolling Stone and Spin, as well as two Grammy nominations, wrote all twelve of this album's songs.
Is This Desire? was recorded in London and Dorset with contributions from the likes of Eric Drew Feldman (of Pixies fame), Mick Harvey (Bad Seeds), as well as Rob Ellis, from the original P J Harvey band line-up.
Since her last album Harvey has been working on collaborations. She is featured on Nick Cave's Murder Ballads and Tricky's latest, Angels with Dirty Faces, and makes her acting debut playing Mary Magdalene in Hal Hartley's upcoming film, The Book of Life.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 8, November 6, 1998
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