385. PJ Harvey – “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea”

Our collection of Harvey output is pretty sparse for no apparent reason.

Indeed, I think this was actually the first Harvey album I actually bought, as housemates had owned much of her earlier discography. And I’m mighty pleased to own this epic.

This is Polly’s NYC album – an homage to the city, life and love therein. The overt rawness of that debut has been replaced by a sophistication and mastery that is very seductive.

Polly has been a pal and collaborator of Nick Cave, and this album highlights their similarities, not so much aurally, but in terms of confidence and playfulness. This album is chockfull of soaring, soulful tracks (comparable to Cave’s “beautiful” Boatman’s Call).

Harvey has learnt to control her powerful voice. When she rocks it out (e.g. The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore) it is with consummate ease, and when she slows it down and duets (This Mess We’re In by far the best thing Thom Yorke’s ever been involved in) it works beautifully:

I’m sure there are hardcore Harvey fans (well, I know there’s loads of them, as I’ve seen them at her live shows) who probably dismiss this as her whimpy, sell-out album, but as a casual listener I find it pretty close to perfect.

File under: Grime and brine

One response to “385. PJ Harvey – “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea”

  1. I love PJ and I LOVE this album ……

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