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Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea

4.3 out of 5 stars 230 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 31, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

HARVEY PJ STORIES FROM THE CITY, STORIES FROM...

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Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea--the sixth album from the most incendiary female British performer to emerge in the 1990s--is as powerful a record as any Polly Jean Harvey has made. Masterfully striking a balance between her blues-folk roots, avant-leanings, and soaring pop sensibility, it serves as a summary of Harvey's prior achievements. The abrasive, jagged guitars hark back to her fiery 1992 debut album, Dry, on the ballistic yet anthemic opener, "Big Exit," while the dreamy, opulent closer, "We Float," demonstrates her maturity as a songwriter. The clamor and emotional rush of a heady relationship--particularly on her duet with Thom Yorke, "This Mess We're In"--gives the album a ferocious clarity. The production skills of Mick Harvey (Nick Cave's Bad Seeds) lends depth and assurance. And, though PJ quotes from many influences--the Who, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, and even West Side Story--her indomitable presence shines throughout. Stories from the City is the work of a singular talent at the peak of her powers. --Gavin Martin
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 31, 2000)
  • Parental Advisory ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Island
  • ASIN: B00004YW6I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,910 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Finally, we are blessed with someone talented enough to sum up the human experience with one shockingly universal cry, "I can't believe life's so complex/when I just want to sit here and watch you undress." Anyone who is not brought to the hight of joy by the comic truth of that statement is either gravely ill or just needs to get out more.
The tone of that remark pervades this album, the deliciously hyper follow-up to 1998's solemn "Is This Desire." Patti Smith must have licked her chops the first time she gave this record a listen, as she undoubtedly has by now. The punk rock freakout of an opener, "Big Exit" is as compelling as anything on her debut, Dry, or the brilliant To Bring You My Love of 1995. Honestly, after the dour collection PJ Harvey brought to us in 1998, I didn't think she still had it in her.
But, man, does she ever! It doesn't stop there, track after track is electrified with frenzied vocals and fizzing guitar work, courtesy of Mick Harvey of the Bad Seeds. From "Good Fortune" to the explosion of a riff opening "Beautiful Feeling" to the aforementioned "This is Love," it becomes violently obvious that PJ Harvey has every intention of sticking around for a long time to come.
But while the album rocks as a whole, the ballads, such as the oddly appealing acoustic song, "Horses in my Dreams," and "One Line" designate PJ Harvey as one of the most talented songwriters of her generation, and I do not pay her that compliment lightly.
To call this album a must buy is like saying Bob Dylan is a decent songwriter. Enough said.
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Format: Audio CD
PJ Harvey's fifth album "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" is the singer/songwriter's finest album and should please fans of her older albums and new fans alike. "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" is somewhat slicker, less rough-around-the-edges than her other albums. I would recommend this album to start off with, as it is probably her most assessable work.

I personally feel that this album has her best collection of songs. From the opening rocker "Big Exit" to the beautiful "We Float," every song is a winner. There isn't any filler to be found. Each song is well written and memorable. It's a good mix of fast paced rockers, mid-tempo songs, and slower ones. The listener never gets bored. This CD deals with themes of love, relationships, etc, but never gets tedious or trite. Everything on this album is sincere and straight from the heart.

The album opens up strong with "Big Exit" an excellent rocker with a good, infectious hook. "Good Fortune" keeps up the momentum. "A Place Called Home" is a beautiful, somewhat morose, slower number whose enchanting background vocals stay with the listener long after the song has ended. The album slows down a bit for the next few songs. The mid-tempo "One Line" leads in perfectly to the dark, atmospheric "Beautiful Feeling." The pace is picked up with "The Whores Hustle, and the Hustlers Whore." "The Mess We're In" features a duet with Thom Yorke. Their overlapping vocals work nicely together. "You Said Something" is another softer number in the vein of "A Place Called Home," only slightly more upbeat. The pace picks up considerably with the excellent rockers "Kamikaze" and "This is Love.
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Format: Audio CD
PJ Harvey returns with yet another brilliant album. Moving away from the electronic/experimental tendencies found on Is This Desire?, this album features a return to a more guitar-based formula that at times recalls her work on Dry and Rid Of Me. The crunchy guitar of "Kamikaze" and "This Is Love" would fit in perfectly on either of those albums.
Several other tracks on the album are lighter songs that feature acoustic guitar and polished pop/rock production with beautiful layering of guitars, synths, pianos, etc. One of these tracks, the wonderful "This Mess We're In", features Radiohead's Thom Yorke on lead vocals dueting with Polly Jean.
From the album-opening rocker "Big Exit" to the album's lovely, somewhat minimalist, finale "We Float", this album shines. While most of PJ's albums since Rid Of Me have moved in a radically different direction from the last, this one retreads old ground to combine old and new. The result is a captivating rock album that ranks among her best.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Along with many others, I consider PJ Harvey's Let England Shake to be the best pop/rock album of 2011 (see my review). Prior to that I had heard little of Harvey's music -- just the songs from To Bring You My Love (1995) that got radio airplay back in the days after the grunge explosion in the early/mid-Nineties when "alternative rock" stations were everywhere.

The brilliance of the 2011 album led me back to this 2000 album, and it is great, really consistently strong from start to finish. Of course it lacks the piercing anti-war content of "Let England Shake," and is more similar to the earlier Nineties albums in terms of the lyrics and sound.

For the most part there are three musicians -- PJ Harvey on vocals and guitar (and sometimes keyboards), Mick Harvey on bass (and sometimes drums), and Rob Ellis on drums (and sometimes other instruments). Thom Yorke makes guest vocalist appearances on "Beatiful Feeling" and "This Mess We're In."

The standout track among many excellent ones is "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore," which is the loudest song on the album, with a great guitar riff and scathing vocals. The booklet includes all the lyrics along with (very small) color photos from the recording sessions.

Harvey does uncanny impressions of other singers on a few of the songs. On the opening number, "Big Exit," there are lines that she sings just like Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. Then on the second song, "Good Fortune," she at times sounds like Patti Smith. And finally, on the last song, the lovely "We Float," she sounds just like Kate Bush.
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