PJ HARVEY: Is This Desire? (Island)

It's been three years since PJ Harvey released their last album, the excellent To Bring You My Love. The songs are noticeably more subdued than before. In some cases, like "Angelene" and "The Wind," this is good. These are two of the most enticing and captivating things Polly has written. On the other hand, there are no rockers like "Long Snake Moan" or "Meet Ze Monsta" to offset the quieter tunes. What we end up with (for the most part) is a collection of atmospheric tunes that don't always go anywhere. At least not on the first listen.

Songs like "The River" and the first single "A Perfect Day Elise" stand up well on their own, while others require that you listen to them a few times before you can really appreciate them. "The Sky Lit Up" and "No Girl So Sweet" are perfect examples. Fans will be happy to hear that Polly is playing guitar on the CD, although you'll be hard-pressed to find it. The strength of this album lies in its lyrics. Her compelling third-person tales draw you inside, demanding that you listen again.

Fans will surely find this album 'desirable,' although PJ newbies are advised to check out To Bring You My Love first.

© 1998 Steve Marshall