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Music / Is This Desire?

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Throw your pain in the river
Throw your pain in the river
Leave your pain in the river
To be washed away slow
The River
My first name Angelene / Prettiest mess you've ever seen / Love for money is my sin / Any man calls I'll let him in

Is This Desire? is the fourth studio album by PJ Harvey, released in 1998. It's her most electronically influenced album to date, and also one of her most experimental. It was a notable departure from her more guitar-driven rock albums to a more subtle, atmospheric style. PJ herself is very proud of it, and said "Is This Desire? is the best record I ever made - probably ever will make - and I feel that that was probably the highlight of my career".

The albums' two singles are "A Perfect Day Elise" and "The Wind".


  1. "Angelene" (3:34)
  2. "The Sky Lit Up" (1:52)
  3. "The Wind" (4:01)
  4. "My Beautiful Leah" (1:59)
  5. "A Perfect Day Elise" (3:06)
  6. "Catherine" (4:05)
  7. "Electric Light" (3:04)
  8. "The Garden" (4:12)
  9. "Joy" (3:40)
  10. "The River" (4:52)
  11. "No Girl So Sweet" (2:45)
  12. "Is This Desire?" (3:25)


"Throw your tropes in the river:"

  • Ambiguously Gay: Both of the men in "The Garden".
    There, inside the garden
    Came another with his lips
    Said "won't you come and be my lover ?"
    "Let me give you a little kiss"
  • Anti-Love Song: Many on this album. "My Beautiful Leah" and "A Perfect Day, Elise" are two.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The cover.
  • Face on the Cover: P.J. is seen twice in mirroring images on the cover.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: "Catherine" is about how a man is jealous and envious of his ex-lover.
  • Harsh Vocals: During "Joy".
  • Murder Ballad: "A Perfect Day, Elise" could be, and is commonly interpreted, as one.
    Let himself in room 509
    As she turned away
    Said a prayer, pulled the trigger, and cried
    Tell me why
  • One-Woman Song: "Angelene", "My Beautiful Leah", "Catherine", and "Joy".
  • Prayer of Malice: Catherine" is about a woman fervently praying for the titular Catherine's death and damnation.
  • Advertisement:
  • Psycho Lesbian: One possible interpretation of "Catherine", where a woman is singing about her envy and anger towards the titular character, and plans to murder her current lover.
  • Questioning Title?: "Is This Desire?"
  • Record Producer: Flood, Marius De Vries, Head, PJ Harvey.
  • Sampling; "The Wind" features samples from Jerry Goldsmith's score for Planet of the Apes.
  • Shout-Out: "A Perfect Day Elise" is inspired by J. D. Salinger's story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish", which is the first of Salinger's stories about a member of the Glass family, Seymour. In the story, Seymour is on vacation with his wife in Florida. While his wife stays in the hotel room and talks on the phone to her mother about his strange behavior, Seymour is having a day at the beach. Afterwards, he comes into the hotel room where his wife is sleeping and shoots himself.
  • Special Guest: Mick Harvey, guitarist for Nick Cave joins in on bass and keyboards. John Parish plays guitar and keyboards. Former Captain Beefheart keyboardist and bassist Eric Drew Feldman plays piano and keyboard.
  • Spoken Word in Music: In the beginning of "The Wind", PJ says a little passage about Catherine.
  • Title Track: "Is This Desire?"
  • Your Cheating Heart: "My Beautiful Leah".
    She was always so needing
    Said "I have no one"
    Even as I held her
    She went out looking for someone
    Looking for someone


Example of: