The Guardian - Album Review - October 20th, 2000
PJ Harvey Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea (Universal)
Half of Polly Harvey's sixth album (the "stories from the city") was written in New York, and that has really brought out the Patti Smith rollick in her voice. As she sings of Brooklyn rooftops in You Said Something, and guns, drugs and cities torn apart, she too creates that perfect fusion of punk energy and fierce, jagged poetry. Even the gentler Dorset songs (the "sea" stories) are affected: there's a fervent undercurrent to Horses In My Dreams, despite the mutedness of its frowning piano melody (from long-time PJ collaborator Rob Ellis) and an atypically lanquid guitar line. What makes this album so fascinating is the way Harvey toys with ideas of femininity: she wrote This Mess We're In, a relationship lament, specifically with Thom Yorke in mind, and the notes wondrously emphasise the siren in Yorke's high-pitched wail. Kamikaze adopts a riff from the Cardigans, but there's no sugar candy sweetheart about Harvey as she taunts "You can't touch me". Not one to listen to while doing the washing up - you're liable to chuck all the plates in the bin.
(MC) Maddy Costa