Polly Harvey takes for granted that eroticism hurts, that nothing pretty comes of giving oneself over to instinctive love.Since rock 'n' roll is both the object and the language of her passion, her version makes for no easy listen, but its torturous turns accomplish the rare task of uncovering a new center for the music.She knows that rock not only expresses but stimulates desire, and if you are hungry enough, it can(at least momentarily) break you apart.That's how Harvey uses it--to free the man in her, and the madwoman,the machine and the animal, the goddess and the ghost.While most of her peers graze pop culture's surfaces for inspiration, Harvey plunges under, to a form of expression grounded in the intuitive and the mystical an account of her own heroic journey into consciousness.Harvey fits more neatly into rock's canon than virtually any of her peers, partly because she neither fears nor scorns it.While her sound takes more from punk thoroughbreds like the Pixies, the Fall and Nick Cave (even Tom Waits), Harvey also recorded a version of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" on Rid of Me, and she gives a subtle nod to Bo Diddley on the title track of To Bring You My Love.Rid Of Me releases a furious female energy, as Harvey calls forth the mythic power of women using eroticism to move beyond biological constraints.It's there in her mummery of familiar temptresses (Eve, Tarzan's Jane) and mad lovers, but it's also in the music.Ellis and Vaughan shred the basic rock form through an oversized approach.Short songs move sickeningly fast; ballads drag and bolt as if afflicted with manic depression.Steve Albini's production, an attempt to claim this power himself, ultimately makes emotional sense of Harvey's jones for excess through wild dynamic shifts.


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