Is This Desire?
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I do not know on what planet i've been but I only recently heard another P.J.Harvey CD and was so impressed that I immediately ordered Is This Desire? Read morePublished 18 months ago by François
Though not a masterpiece like "Rid Of Me" and "Stories From The City," "Is This Desire? Read morePublished on June 17 2004 by Lisa A. Flowers
This album made me a real pj fan. i had 'rid of me' in my collection but this cd changed everything. every song is beautiful, different, emotional, and haunting. Read morePublished on June 1 2004 by Desiree
Although my personal favorite will probably always be "Four Track Demos," I consider "Is This Desire" to be her best work. Read morePublished on May 29 2004 by Frank Z
This is my favorite PJ Harvey album. It's simply a masterpiece of subtlety. And I have to admit, I wasn't that into it the first few times I heard it. Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2003 by G. A. Anderson
If you're new to PJ Harvey, don't buy this one first. Get Give you My Love, and Stories From the City. Is This Desire takes time to get in, under and over. Read morePublished on May 22 2003 by Lisa A. Santoro
Nearly as powerful and amazing as "To Bring You My Love." No record collection should be without a copy. Why don't you own it already?Published on April 29 2003 by Cody
The bad news: there's some weaker songwriting here, like the silly "The Wind" and a few cold biscuits from the "To Bring You My Love" era (the unbearably ugly "Joy"). Read morePublished on March 7 2003 by The Devil