Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

PJ Harvey & John Parish: A Woman a Man Walked By [Island, 2009]
A distinct odor of shtick emanates from Harvey's second full-length outing with her old pal Parish, who having been ceded the music is proud to emulate his friend the genius's crazy ways from the hard-riffing "Black Hearted Lover" to the forlorn "Cracks in the Canvas." In the wake of three questionable albums, shtick is a relief, not just because it's really great shtick but because after all these years we're happy to be clear about whether she's performing or expressing herself. Playing a spooky game of hide-and-seek or stealing the soul of a mother in mourning or kissing off a California where she you can bet never bought sunscreen or brutalizing a mama's boy with a chicken liver spleen, she's nothing less than the Queen of Goth, eternally uncrowned because some shtick she's just too good for. A-