Sunday, 22 August 2010

12. PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

To me, PJ Harvey has always been one of those names you hear so much about, but never actually give any attention to. This is the first (and so far, only) PJ record I've listened to. My first encounter was in the cafe where I work. One of the chefs, Joe, has a collection of literally thousands of CDs, and would usually bring in one of his huge CD wallets on shift. We both share a fairly similar taste in music, and on discussion he discovered I'd never heard anything by PJ. Immediately, he leafed through his wallet and pulled out Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, whacked it on and cranked up the volume.
Not really knowing what to expect, the initial punchy guitar/synth riff impacted hard, setting the line for the rest of the album. At Beautiful Feeling I thought my ears were playing tricks with me, thinking I could hear Thom Yorke with backing vocals.. The suspicion was proven on This Mess We're In, where the pair duet throughout. This added an edge of brilliance to the album for me. I've always been a huge fan of Radiohead and Thom Yorke, and have great admiration of his vocal abilities. Together they make quite a pair!
Written during her emigration from Dorset to New York, the album tells the story of her move between two completely different cultures of life. Her new experiences of city living and their contrasts to the Dorset countryside become clear through the record, capturing the excitement of starting a new life and the heartache of leaving one behind. An enticing grunge work from start to finish, definitely one of my top new discoveries from the past!

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