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Classic Albums

CA40 PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

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We take a deep dive into the career of one of the most illustrious and admired artists of modern times; PJ Harvey’s fifth full-length studio album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is our latest entry into Classic Albums.

Released on 24 October 2000 by Island Records, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea became the second major commercial success of her recording career, following her successful breakthrough To Bring You My Love (1995). Whilst it received generally favourable praise, placing 4th in Metacritic’s Albums of the Year list, there are a small but vocal crowd who bemoan the album’s shaved edges and melodic ‘pop’ sensibility. But Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea merely proves that Polly Jean Harvey is a chameleon who can take on any musical form whilst remaining at the top of her song-writing game.

New York plays a big part in the album as does the feeling of falling in love, a topic perhaps too romantic for those who revelled in the bleak, stark black and white vignettes of Dry or Rid of Me, but Harvey never makes the topic mushy or overly sentimental. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea proved that indie and pop sensibilities could be bedfellows, an idea that seems obvious in 2021 but was often derided at the dawn of the 21st century. The album went on to receive acclaim from most music critics and earned Harvey several accolades, including the 2001 Mercury Prize.

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