Saturday, 14 March 2009

Lust For Life



(From the bigsunnyd archive!)

I can't believe that life's so complex
When I just want to sit here and watch you undress
I can't believe that life's so complex
When I just want to sit here and watch you undress

This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love
That I'm feeling

Does it have to be a life full of dread
I wanna chase you round the table, I wanna touch your head
Does it have to be a life full of dread
I wanna chase you round the table, I wanna touch your head

This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love
That I'm feeling

I can't believe that the axis turns on suffering
When you taste so good
I can't believe that the axis turns on suffering
When my head burns

Love, love, love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, love, love
That I'm feeling

Even in the summer
Even in the spring
You can never get too much of
A wonderful thing

You're the only story that I never told
You're my dirty little secret, wanna keep you so
You're the only story that's never been told
You're my dirty little secret, wanna keep you so

Come on out, come on over, help me forget
Keep the walls from falling as they're tumbling in
Come on out, come on over, help me forget
Keep the walls from falling on me, tumbling in
Keep the walls from falling as they're tumbling in

This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, this is love
That I'm feeling
This is love, love, love
That I'm feeling


(PJ Harvey -- "This Is Love")

Musically 'This Is Love' is almost ridiculously direct. The chundering, distorted guitar part (a couple of chords strung together with ridiculous swagger and panache) and thumping drums combine with Polly Jean's booming vocals in a way that--to my ears at least--recalls some of lggy Pop's earlier material. But it is only almost ridiculously direct because (as with a lot of those old Iggy tunes) there's more going on than immediately meets the eye, or ear, as the case may be. Witness the piano part and second guitar line that weave through the song as it goes on, adding sonic texture without getting in the way of the brute kick of the main guitar and vocal parts.

The lyrics function in a similar way, being joyously charged and conveying an absolutely dead-on sense of being lost in a rush of lust and emotions while simultaneously acknowledging the fact that this always seem hard to reconcile with the complexity of life in general (it's all in the first line I guess!). There's a sense of something that's not that far away from desperation around the edges of the song, but the key to 'This is Love' is that there's still a sense of utter invigoration here. Just check out the line "Come on out, come on over, help me forget/ Keep the walls from falling as they're tumbling in". That's a pretty anxious lyric, but it's blown away by that last chorus where the second guitar circles around the rest of the tune and everything just sounds really huge and amazing. These kind of moments, experiences, and relationships can be utterly transcendent -- they won't make everything go away, but they can put some fucking spring in your step*. Harvey has written many more complicated lyrics, but it doesn't matter because this song nails something that is both simultaneously obvious and nuanced in its own punchy way. It feels genuinely triumphant, and I love it for that.

*And I'm not just talking about being in love or having great sex here. Don't get me wrong: this is a great big sexy bastard of a tune and sex and love are obviously what the lyrics are about, but there's more to joy than that, and I think the way the exultant thrill of the song wins out over the more difficult elements is applicable all over the shop.

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