Alternative Rock, 2000
If Tori Amos kills with her piano, PJ Harvey is lethal with her electric guitar. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is probably her most accessible stuff to date, but god, she still rocks.
From the head-banging Big Exit (where she sounds like Patti Smythe) to the brilliant Good Fortune (where she sounds like Stevie Nicks), Ms Harvey lets it rip like there’s no tomorrow. Her fiery, sultry vocals more than make up for the lack of originality in her new material. Listening to One Line and Kamikaze, I can’t help but to wonder why I never joined a rock band. Hmm.
But the masterpiece of this album is the really Gothic The Mess We’re in, where the master of misery, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, sings practically the whole song in his mournful dirge of a voice while Harvey provides the sultry contrast. This song is about two messed-up lovers who had, I don’t know, a one-night stand which both couldn’t get over. The whole mess is just like too much cheap alcohol or low-grade drugs, I guess. Still, this song is just wonderful in its eerie lament to messed-up psychosis.
The downside, of course, is Ms Harvey’s sometimes embarrassing lyrics. I still can’t singalong to The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore without cringing at the awfully pretentious lyrics.
Nonetheless, PJ Harvey’s fire and kinetic energy shine like a nuclear reactor alarm bulb going haywire in this metallic, exuberant album. Just brilliant. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea proves that she is still one of the finest rock chicks around.