Is That All There Is?
Recorded after PJ Harvey’s landmark To Bring You My Love album and before her subtler follow-up Is This Desire?, Dance Hall at Louse Point was a brilliant breather for an artist in turmoil. Guitarist John Parish plays all the instruments here, but his overall sound is easily attuned to Harvey’s own. Both worship the blues and a Gothic sense of shadow and light. “Urn With Dead Flowers In a Drained Pool” sounds as if it were lifted from an Edgar Allan Poe story, while “Civil War Correspondent” sports an elegiac mood and tune perfectly in sync with Harvey’s advancing direction. “That Was My Veil” does so much with acoustic guitar and a melody that it allows Harvey to emote with a sweet plead, while “City of No Sun” is an electric bust-out that’s a set piece for Harvey to rage in hollers and torrents of words. “Taut” works towards a quiet that sounds like Harvey is crouched down under the ping-pong table in her parents’ basement awaiting her big bluesy chorus. For a “side-project,” the album feels confident and complete.