This is a single from The Hope Six Demolition Project, an album inspired by PJ Harvey's trips to Washington, DC, Kosovo and Afghanistan with photographer Seamus Murphy. The record was named after the US Department Of Housing And Urban Development's HOPE VI program, which is a controversial policy of demolishing public housing projects and building mixed-income communities in their place.
This song paints a dreadful picture of Ward 7, an underdeveloped and economically depressed urban environment immediately surrounding the DHUD's headquarters in Washington D.C. ("Now this is just drug town, just zombies. But that's just life."). The lyrics were inspired by a tour of the city that Harvey and Murphy made with The Washington Post's Paul Schwartzman.
Various DC politicians criticized Harvey's lyrics. Former mayor Vince Gray said: "I will not dignify this inane composition with a response."
The Hope Six Demolition Project was Harvey's first ever UK #1 album. The singer's previous highest-charting UK release was her 1993 LP Rid Of Me, which peaked at #3.