Move Over, Tarzan--Pj Harvey Is Back

Last year the British band PJ Harvey released a stark and astonishing debut album called "Dry," which they'd made for less than $5,000. The music industry did cartwheels-just as the movie industry did when Sundance kid Robert Rodriguez made "El Mariachi" for $7,000. There's nothing like a walking, talking profit margin. But PJ Harvey's new disc, Rid of Me, makes it clear that the band will resist a corporate takeover.

"Rid of Me" is full of brutal, guitar-driven songs that tilt toward performance art-on "Me Jane," Polly Harvey, 23, lets loose with "Damn your chest-beating gestures /Stop your screaming ... Move it over, Tarzan / Can't you see I'm bleeding?" The album calls to mind the same angels of anarchy that hovered over "Dry": Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde and Sinead O'Connor (before she quit the music biz and grew hair), Harvey, who was name songwriter in the last Rolling Stone critics' poll, rarely speaks onstage. She's gangly and awkward in everything but music. Still, she's become the high priestess of subversiveness, especially among alternative-music fans who watched in horror as fashion editors discovered grunge. Harvey's most beguiling new song is the wild, insistent single "50 Ft. Queenie," which is extrapolated from the old scifi flick "Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman."It's a hilarious variation on the empowerment theme-and, as always, it finds PJ Harvey towering over the competition.