Love Taps

And as the music swells, so does the woman's self-deception. Ah, delusion! How sweet it must be to allow it into your brain--to convince yourself that everything you do is justified by "love." Truly, Monica is the guy in "Catherine," who sings, "Catherine DeBarra, you've murdered my thinking, I gave you my heart, you left the thing stinking." And Bill is the girl in "No Girl So Sweet" who mutters, "How much more can you take from me?" to a man who worships her.

Meanwhile, "A Perfect Day Elise," the album's single and one of the few songs here which moves swiftly enough to be called "rock," is about a stalker of some kind--the kind of person that White House deputy chief of staff Evelyn Lieberman calls "a clutch." And in "My Beautiful Leah," a woman searches for her daughter, who has left her with the words, "If I don't find it this time, then I'm better off dead." Are these people warped or what?

Is This Desire? doesn't break any new ground for Harvey, but that doesn't really matter. At this point in time, the kind of shocks her singular music administers are shocks of recognition. Always, she poses as a woman who is not even pretty on the inside, and the pose is both mystifying and familiar. Is This Desire? may not be PJ Harvey's finest moment on record, but it certainly resonates, the unwitting soundtrack to this era's saddest spectacle.

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