26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A modern rock masterpiece,
This review is from: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (Audio CD)
I'm too lazy to bother reviewing many albums here but I had to make an exception for this one. Why? Because it's one of the greatest rock albums I've ever heard and I want new people to know just how good PJ Harvey really is.
Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea is a masterpiece from start to finish. PJ outdoes herself on raw, fiery, hard-rocking guitar cuts like Big Exit, This Is Love, Kamikaze, The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore and the brilliant bonus track This Wicked Tongue. The spectacular opening song Big Exit speeds past on blazing, careening power chords and powerhouse drumming courtesy of master percussionist Rob Ellis. Good Fortune and One Line both have a dizzying romanticism and surging energy that make them similarly irresistible. And listen out for the quaking monster riff that opens This Is Love as PJ lustily declares, "I can't believe life's so complex when I just wanna sit here and watch you undress" - it manages to be an electrifying, deliciously sexy hard-rock song and witty, tongue-in-cheek fun at the same time. These songs see PJ Harvey revisiting the punky, bluesy power-trio days of her early albums Dry and Rid of Me, and they reveal her oft-cited influence of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and other classic 70s rock. It's not all bluster and noise though. Gorgeous songs like A Place Called Home, You Said Something, We Float and the heartbreaking Thom Yorke duet This Mess We're In will surprise you with their sparkling melodies and a cleaner production than previous PJ Harvey records. There are also two minimalist, stripped-down acoustic numbers - Beautiful Feeling and Horses in My Dreams - that bring a nicely eerie atmospheric touch to proceedings, nestled in amongst the louder tracks.
The whole album is brilliantly sequenced so that it feels like a loosely conceptual song cycle about a person arriving in a big scary city (Big Exit), finding an exciting but dangerous love (the Bonnie and Clyde references of Good Fortune), then enduring romantic heartache (This Mess We're In) and angry turmoil (Kamikaze) before fading out on a promise to "Take life as it comes" (in We Float). But a few minutes after We Float has reached its dreamy, hopeful end, the head-banging bonus track This Wicked Tongue unexpectedly charges in to bring the record to its bitter, explosive, hardcore finish.
PJ Harvey is a unique, genius-level talent and Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea shows her off at her peak: her voice is brilliantly expressive, her lyrics are unusually poetic, and her guitar playing has a ringing dynamic clarity. She simply has a rare brand of emotional intensity and pure passion that cannot be faked.
I strongly urge all you readers to buy this album now - you will NOT be disappointed!