Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is the fifth studio album by PJ Harvey, released in 2000. It was a notable New Sound Album for the singer because the sound is more accessible than her earlier records, yet remained true to her Alternative Rock roots. Widely acclaimed as one of her best albums, Stories followed in the footsteps of To Bring You My Love and helped make Harvey an icon in her native England. It also allowed her to break into US markets thanks to its lyrics centered toward New York City, where she lived for about a year before the album's release.
Harvey has stated that the album was a culmination of her musical concerns at the time, a reconciliation of her more Deliberately Monochrome attitudes with melodic sections interpolated throughout the record. Her music was tied to other best-selling female artists of The '90s such as Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos, while she gained a foothold in the Alternative Indie revival during the Turn of the Millennium. Additionally, in the wake of The War on Terror, Harvey's music became more popular as it resonated with New York listeners, who were healing from the devastating terror attacks.
Stories is best remembered for the hit singles "Good Fortune", "A Place Called Home", and "This Is Love". TIME included the album in their 2006 list of 100 timeless and essential albums. It was listed at #431 in Rolling Stone's Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and at #134 on NME's list of the same name.
- "Big Exit" (3:51)
- "Good Fortune" (3:20)
- "A Place Called Home" (3:43)
- "One Line" (3:14)
- "Beautiful Feeling" (4:00)
- "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore" (4:01)
- "This Mess We're In" (3:57)
- "You Said Something" (3:19)
- "Kamikaze" (2:24)
- "This Is Love" (3:48)
- "Horses in My Dreams" (5:38)
- "We Float" (6:07)
Bonus track in the UK and Japan:
- "This Wicked Tongue (3:42)
So I trope my good fortune...
- Alliterative Title: "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore".
- Army of Thieves and Whores/Big Rotten Apple: "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore" seems to refer to the dark underbelly of New York life:The whores hustle and the hustlers whore
Too many people out of love
The whores hustler and the hustlers whore
This city's ripped right to the core
- Big Applesauce: And, on the other side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, Harvey meant the album as a genuine tribute to New York City.
When we walked through Little ItalyI saw my reflection come right off your face
- "Good Fortune"
On a rooftop in Brooklyn, one in the morningWatching the lights flash in ManhattanI see five bridges, the Empire State BuildingAnd you said something that I've never forgotten
- "You Said Something"
- Continuity Nod: "Kamikaze" talks about "his horses coming in", while "Horses In My Dreams" speaks of "horses in my dreams".
- Crapsack World:
I walk on concreteI walk on sandBut I can't find a safe place to standI'm scared, baby, I wanna runThis world's crazy, gimme the gun!
- "Big Exit"
The whores hustle and the hustlers whoreToo many people out of loveThe whores hustle and the hustlers whoreThis city's ripped right to the core
- "The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore"
- Crossover: Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs on four tracks.
- Epic Rocking: "Horses in My Dreams" and "We Float" both break the five-minute mark thanks to their instrumental sections.
- Face on the Cover: P.J. passing by in Cool Shades.
- Female Gaze: "This Is Love"I can't believe life's so complexWhen I just wanna sit here and watch you undress
- Girls with Guns: "Big Exit", which may or may not be self-aware about her own perceived sex appeal were she to carry a gun.
- Let's Duet: Thom Yorke of Radiohead sings along with P.J. Harvey on "This Mess We're In".
- Likes Older Women: PJ sings about a boy who likes her in "Beautiful Feeling":A smile from San Diego
He is still a boy
Two ends to every rainbow
And a train from Mexico
But he's the best thing
A beautiful feeling
- Love Nostalgia Song: "One Line":Do you remember the first kiss?
Stars shooting across the sky
To come to such a place as this
You never left my mind
- Messianic Archetype: Referenced toward the end of "We Float":So will we die of shock?
Die without a trial
Die on Good Friday
While holding each other tight
- New Sound Album: Compared to her earlier albums, Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea was Lighter and Softer, but still good enough to keep her Alternative Rock audience drawn in.
- One-Word Title: "Kamikaze".
- Outlaw Couple: "Good Fortune"And I fantasize of our leavingLike some modern-day Gypsy landslideLike some modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, on the run again
- The Power of Love:
I wanna' chase you round the tableI wanna' touch your headThis is love that I'm feeling
- "This Is Love"
And when I watch you moveAnd I can't think straightAnd I am silencedAnd I can't think straightIt's the best thing, such a beautiful feeling
- "Beautiful Feeling"
- Precision F-Strike: "Kamikaze"Where the fuck was I looking when all his horses came in?
- Record Producer: Rob Ellis and Mick Harvey (no relation to PJ Harvey) produced the record.
- The Runaway: Both "We Float" and "Kamikaze" seem to feature runaway narrators.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: "A Place Called Home", which features layers of harmonizing that would have been out of place in Harvey's previous, rawer records.
- Somewhere Song: "A Place Called Home"One day I know we'll find a place of hopeJust hold on to me
- Soprano and Gravel: "This Mess We're In", where P.J. is the soprano and Thom Yorke the gravel.
- Special Guest: Thom Yorke (Radiohead) performs on this album. He sings and plays keyboards on "One Line" and also provides vocals on "Beautiful Feeling" and "This Mess We're In".
- Working-Class Hero: PJ establishes herself as one in "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore":Speak to me your song of greed
Speak to me of your inner charm
Of how you'll keep me safe from harm
I don't think so, I don't see
Speak to me of your inner peace