Pj harvey - dry - PJ Harvey - Dry - YouTube

Hey! I’m the king o’ the world!
You hear my song?
Come on, measure me –
I’m twenty inches long!

Released on indie label Too Pure off the back of a mailed-in demo and John Peel’s enthusiasm, “Dress” is a young woman’s desperate and naive attempt at seduction. Where riot grrrls in the Pacific Northwest were pouring acid on the grotesque mating charade, Harvey, fresh out of her first relationship, intensified the danger by playing the willing ingenue. In the song, she struggles against femininity’s constricting bodice; Eve drowning in apples, “spilling over like a heavy loaded fruit tree.” For all her efforts, it’s the wrong outfit: “‘You purdy thang,’ my man says, ‘But I bought you beautiful dresses,’” she mimics, sneering like the creep in a western. Her “clean and sparkling” dress instantly becomes a filthy rag, her identity abject: “Better get it out of this room/A falling woman in dancing costume.” Harvey’s identity, though, was immediately forged: Funny, furious, and capable of writing hooks—the taunted “If you put it on, if you put it on”—that burned like lit fuses.

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