||P J HARVEY
STORIES FROM THE CITY, STORIES FROM THE SEA
ALBUM ISLAND, UNIVERSAL RELEASE: OCTOBER 24, 2000 REVIEW: NOVEMBER 24, 2000
Some worrying changes have taken place with P J Harvey. Firstly, she has
exited her messed up, sleazy former self for a seemingly more tidy, mature
image, carrying with her an annoyingly highbrow cultural air. And worse, her
entire new album seems to deal with her newfound love. A quick glance
through the lyrics seems to confirm this - they're packed with cliché's like
"take life as it comes" and "I feel like some bird of paradise" - and I may
be a horrible person, but few things can be more disturbing than having to
listen to someone ranting on about how much in love they are.
But in the same moment as the words leave Harvey's mouth, all whimsy
happiness seems to slip away, and leave the lyrics tainted. Harvey might be
happily in love, but she sounds like she's just too aware that it won't
last, like she's desperately trying to hold on to something that sooner or
later is bound to crumble away in her clenched fists. In the end she sounds
just as desperate as ever.
What pulls "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea" down is instead its
reactionary production. Compared to the bleeding harshness of Harvey's last
album, "Is This Desire?", the crisp rock sound of this album is very
Opening track "Big Exit" is a fabulous rock song, as is "The Whores Hustle
and the Hustlers Whore" (song title of the year?), but most of the album
fails to captivate in the same way as P J Harvey usually does. I miss the sore
blues of her older material, and the sordid pulse of "To Bring You My Love".
And I really can't stand the single "Good Fortune".