Hot Press, Ireland - Album Review - October 25th, 2000
PJ Harvey Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea (Island)

As the title suggests, Harvey's sixth album has an urban/rural duality, but the edges remain blurred within the combination of themes and music. New York is the city in question - part of the album was recorded there, which is clearly signposted in the references to "Manhattan rooftops" and "Little Italy" scattered throughout. Inspiration by the city's punk poetess Patti Smith is also supremely apparent in every aspect including the vocal style, not to mention titles like 'Horses In My Dreams' and 'The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore.' Despite its supposed geographical split personality, Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea is a very even and cohesive album, although much of the old Harvey blood and grit has been wiped away. There are still several echoes of earlier angry rants like 'Sheela-Na-Gig' and 'Rid Of Me' (without the same fiercely glowing ire), but even in its quiet brooding moments, the album rarely dips into the morbid depths of latterday offerings To Bring You My Love and Is This Desire? The most heart-stopping moment is 'This Mess We're In' featuring Thom Yorke. A duet written with him in mind, it allows his voice to soar gracefully over Harvey's murmured invocations. While many tracks possess a mellow, ember-glow warmth, the abiding sense is of uncompromising romance, a climactic rush of doomed yet hopeful Bonnie and Clyde love stories, and soft, but fervent prayers for deliverance. 10/10

Fiona Reid