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Is This Desire?

4.5 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Discover this year's nominees on CD and Vinyl, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best New Artist of the Year, and more. Learn more

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Sept. 29 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B00000AFFI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,070 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Angelene
2. The Sky Lit Up
3. The Wind
4. My Beautiful Leah
5. A Perfect Day Elise
6. Catherine
7. Electric Light
8. The Garden
9. Joy
10. The River
11. No Girl So Sweet
12. Is This Desire?

Product Description


Each of Harvey's previous albums has been a distinct affair. She has taken steps forward not only in forging her sound but also in exploring the wealthy veins of rock and roll. So on first listen, Is This Desire? seems almost disappointing, very close to same dark, woozy and bluesy musical territory she staked out on To Bring You My Love. But it's been said that though good stories can be read once, great stories must be read twice. In that spirit, this album, beautifully complex and subtly shaded, deserves a few revisitations. A recommendation: spend a few nonstop hours with Is This Desire? . It will change you. --Tod Nelson

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This album is certainly different than PJs previous ones, and a little disappointing for me initially for just that very reason. It was the second album of hers that I had ever heard, after 'To Bring You My Love', and quite a bit different. Eventually, I grew to love this one as well, if not quite as much as 'TBYML'. But this is what PJ does. She moves on to explore other ideas, never wanting to repeat herself. It's a challenge she places on herself, and by extension, on her fans.
I love how she incorporates different elements into her music, but never really talks much about her sources for inspiration, leaving some mystery intact. St. Catherine lore, Flannery O'Connor stories, and Nick Cave break-up relationship issues are but a few elements that inform the songs on this record. Never in a heavy-handed sort of way, mind you. These influences have been recognized by fans over time. Someone reads an O'Connor story, and notices very close similarities to the song 'Joy', for example, incorporating a character from it into the main subject of the song. These different themes or topics for songs are always worked in with subtlety, mystery, never with banal obviousness.
And no, PJ is not a lesbian (insert famous Seinfeld line here!). I say this because there are a few songs on this record that the romantic character being sung about is a woman, so the uninitiated wonder, "does this mean Polly's gay?". Polly has stated that when she writes songs, she'll sing from either a female or male perspective, never really differentiating the two all that much. Hence, the confusion on the issue, especially on this record where 'Catherine', 'No Girl, So Sweet', 'Perfect Day Elise' and 'Electric Light' all have females being sung about from a perspective of "desire" for them.
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Format: Audio CD
With the (almost impossible) task of topping the incredible "To bring you my love" -her previous album- expected by fans, P.J actually delivers a great album by going in a slightly different direction.
She leaves one masterpiece behind and constructs a new one. And this must be trickery at its best because Harvey accomplishes this without necessarily employing new recipes.
The tragic stories are there. The darkness and general gloominess of the songs as well. The overall intense atmosphere and the dirty rock riffs.
And yet this sounds different. So what's changed? Well, whatever change there is it is subtle.
The production is polished and so is the music. Definately not as raw as "Rid of me" and not as theatric as "To bring you my love". The songs seem to be more accessible than on previous LPs and this might (just might) bring her to new wider audiences.
But this is beauty of an album nevertheless.
Harvey tries a few new things with her voice and the rest stays as we know her.
There are tremendous songs to be ebjoyed in "Is this desire?", namely, and most notably "Angelene", the ultra catchy "The wind", "My beautiful Leah", the stunning "It's a perfect day Elise" and of course the eponymously titled "is this desire" saved for last on the record.
It's a neverending proposition with P.J Harvey, you either love her or ignore her. I can easily understand how many will find her voice and her lyrics rather "difficult". After all, Harvey sings like no other female singer i know.
For those who love her music and voice this LP will be yet one more to treasure and while, yes, it doesnt grab you immediately like "To bring you my love" did, this is one where the more you listen to it the more you'll sink deeper in it.
Twelve songs of immense feeling.
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Format: Audio CD
Its been almost 5 years since I've purchased this CD, and I still listen to album everyday(especially when I study or just feel lonely). This is one of the most intriguing, compelling, mind-bodling, spellbound displays of musical brillance by PJ Harvey. The music alone is absolutely captivating, creating a moody and romantic atmosphere that is undescrible to someone who hasn't heard this masterpiece. Every song creates a different ambiance, with PJ Harvey's voice rising over the music to create a perfect combination. Her voice is definitely much more powerful, seductive, and well improved from her previous releases. Critics may argue that her best recording may be To Bring You My Love, but this Cd certainly dismantles the melocholy mood of To Bring You My Love. To Bring You My Love has a few great songs, but it is not a Cd that you can listen to from top to bottom without skipping a few tracks. On the other hand, Is This Desire is one of those rarities that can be played from beginning to end. It is the perfect Cd to play in the background with a romantic candlelight dinner at your apartment with the lights really low. My favorite songs are The River, The Sky Lit Up, A Perfect Day Elise---who am I kidding---they are all perfect!!! This is an absolute masterpiece!!
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Format: Audio CD
Heard "Rid Of Me" a few years ago and found it very off-putting. This CD is a little mellower in that the production is cleaner and the arrangements are a little quieter; on balance, though, this is a CD that will please any PJ enthusiast but not too many others. My take is that if you thought Bryan Ferry made a habit of exposing his emotions in song, he doesn't hold a candle to PJ. She would suck all the juices out of Ferry's body and leave him a charred, crispy, quivering husk. She is without a doubt the queen of raging, tragic, compulsive/obsessive songwriting. A rawer expression of obsessive love and flat-out horniness would be very difficult to find, unless it were other PJ albums. Way too raw for my taste. She's positively flagitious in her need to expose every single raw-nerved aspect of her failed physical relationships. Jeez! Have a beer! It must be hard to find good men in Cornwall. Oh well, she's moved to New York now anyway so she's probably doing better now, poor dear. Musically, PJ is also the mistress of the brief, punchy song. The best song on the CD, "Elise," is less than three minutes and cries out for longer treatment. My wife really likes her, though.
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