Monday, November 23, 2009

5. PJ Harvey "This Is Love" (2000)

On the surface, "This Is Love" is Polly Harvey's most unabashedly happy song on an album full of them. Yet Harvey performs it with an almost malevolent ferocity. Even in love, Polly is not short on passion and theatricality.

"This Is Love" begins with one of PJ Harvey's best lyrics:
I can't believe life's so complex, when I just wanna sit here and watch you undress.
It's a remarkable line for an artist who has previously seemed tortured by life's complexity. Harvey goes on to chase her man-prey around a table, her head burning with lust. This is love? It sounds more like raging desire.

The music is as straightforward and accessible as PJ Harvey gets. A charging bass hook gives the song its menacing pounce, while her guitar shimmers with lovely arpeggios. Above it all, Polly roars like a lioness in heat.

It should be noted that "This Is Love" is the second song from Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea to make this list. It only goes to show the album's embarrassment of riches, and how high PJ Harvey towers over her peers when she's at her best.

Click here to view the entire list.