As brave and bewitching a record P J Harvey’s White Chalk is, a singles album it most definitely isn’t. 'The Piano' is a second, inwardly-fluttering release of corseted demons and sublimated desire, opening with the fantastically gory lines: "hit her with a hammer, teeth smashed in / red tongue’s twitching, look inside her skeleton".
And while 'The Devil' or even 'Grow Grow Grow' might have made for something vaguely more akin to conventional-sounding singles, this has a peculiar power all of its own; repressed and not a little unnerving.
'The Piano' could be a whispered voice you thought you heard on the wind, such is the song’s crepuscular slightness. It’s the sound of slippered feet across candlelit halls, the proverbial madwoman in the attic, and it’s a role Harvey inhabits with ghostly conviction.
8Alex Denney's Score