In last week’s ‘Arts + Books’ section of The Daily Telegraph (UK, Saturday, 8th November 2003), in Pop’s 50 Best Duets Ever, Number 48 was PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke – This Mess We’re In (2000). The short passage reads, “Harvey apparently wrote this song, for her album Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, with Radiohead’s singer in mind. Her thrummy Fender guitar chugs along on the back of a deadpan rhythm; over the top of this floats Yorke’s ethereal voice, singing of a strange fleeting encounter with a woman. Yorke does most of the singing, with Harvey joining him on the refrain, and speaking rather than singing on the last verse. The song builds inexorably, chillingly, to its bleak conclusion.
KEY MOMENT: The final verse, when Harvey speaks the words that Yorke is about to sing; the contrast between words drily spoken and hauntingly sung is compelling.” [Number 1 was Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Some Velvet Morning’ (1968).] [thanks Tom]