Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Released: October 31, 2000
Charted: November 4, 2000
Peak: 42 US, 23 UK, 37 CN, 20 AU
Sales (in millions): 0.36 US, 0.29 UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: alternative rock
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 47:25
4.202 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“Legendary DJ John Peel wrote the first ever review of a PJ Harvey song, ‘Dress’, in 1992: ‘Admirable, if not always enjoyable.’ For a decade, the label stuck, at least in part thanks to Polly Jean’s own insistence on reaching for Big Themes while screeching over blues guitar feedback.” TL
On top of that “Harvey has had as many incarnations as she has albums. She’s gone from the Yeovil art student of her debut Dry, to Rid of Me’s punk poetess to To Bring You My Love and Is This Desire?’s postmodern siren; on Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea – inspired by her stay in New York City and life in the English countryside – she’s changed again.” AMG
“The album cover’s stylish, subtly sexy image suggests what its songs confirm: PJ Harvey has grown up.” AMG “Album number five found her in New York and in love.” RS’20 “Stories resolves almost everything about her career – the battle between rough blues and sweet rock melodies, between demons and bright days – over the course of 45 minutes, and without a single dud track.” TL
“Harvey had spent four records howling her sexual obsessions and romantic disappointments over stark postmodern blues. Her guitar attack was still forceful, but softened around the edges by marimba, piano, [and] organ.” RS’20 “Direct, vulnerable lyrics replace the allegories and metaphors of her previous work, and the album’s production polishes the songs instead of obscuring them in noise or studio tricks.” AMG
“On the album’s best tracks, such as Kamikaze and This Is Love, a sexy, shouty blues-punk number that features the memorable refrain ‘I can’t believe life is so complex/When I just want to sit here and watch you undress,’ Harvey sounds sensual and revitalized.” AMG
“The New York influences surface on the glamorous punk rock of” AMG “the surging opener, Big Exit” RS’20 and “the garage-y Good Fortune,” RS’20 “on which Harvey channels both Chrissie Hynde’s sexy tough girl and Patti Smith’s ferocious yelp.” AMG On the former, “she feels immortal and makes you believe she might be.” TL
“You Said Something hovers gorgeously over Manhattan. Even a duet [on This Mess We’re In] with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke can't drag her back into paranoia.” TL “Ballads like [that one and] the sweetly urgent, piano and marimba-driven One Line…avoid the painful depths of Harvey’s darkest songs.” AMG
“Horses in My Dreams also reflects Harvey’s new emotional balance: ‘I have pulled myself clear,’ she sighs, and we believe her. However, We Float’s glossy choruses veer close to Lillith Fair territory, and longtime fans can’t help but miss the visceral impact of her early work, but Stories… doesn't compromise her essential passion.” AMG
“Hopefully, this album’s happier, more direct PJ Harvey is a persona she’ll keep around for a while.” AMG Harvey is “one of modern music’s great artists at the very peak of her abilities.” TL
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First posted 3/14/2010; last updated 4/24/2022.