Saturday, January 02, 2010

"Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" - What Others Said

“Harvey has always been sex-obsessed. But there are better things to do with sex than obsess about it--enjoy it, for instance. And though the love affair the album describes or invents may end badly--e.g., the furious "Kamikaze," or the lovely "The Mess We're In," sung mostly by Radiohead's Thom Yorke--at least it sounds like a true affair, rather more full-bodied than "Robert DeNiro, sit on my face." Harvey and her beau ideal dance and get drunk, walk through Little Italy and sit looking at the skyline from a Brooklyn rooftop. Maybe they'll fulfill the dream of the finale: "But one day/We'll float/Take life as it comes." Or maybe she'll attain that state of grace with someone else. Whatever happens, this album will be there to remind her how happiness feels.”

- Robert Christgau

“Like Bob Dylan circa Blonde on Blonde, Elvis Costello circa This Year's Model, and Patti Smith, who some people seem to think she sounds like on this album, Harvey sings with certainty about her internal life and the world around her. It's hard to keep from quoting lyrics when writing about this album, because they're so good. But flat on the screen, the words don't convey Harvey's vocal nuances in a line like "And he's the best thing/ He's the best thing/ He's the best thing/ A beautiful feeling." The way she almost whispers a word, and then lets minimal guitar notes fill the air — just a little longer than you might expect. Or sings "And when I watch you move," and then just holds that last word.”

- Michael Goldberg

“The songs on the album are taut and flawless, with the energy and intensity of her earlier songs meshing exquisitely with elegant melodies and enormous hooks and choruses. There is a sublime and seamless blend between the grimy cityscape settings of her songs and the dreamy seaside tranquility of Harvey’s home in Dorset, which is hinted at quite obviously in the album’s title. And of course, having Yorke contribute vocals on two tracks never hurts, either. But Harvey is clearly the star of the show throughout this masterpiece, easily going from the piercing, potent edge of “The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore” and “Kamikaze” to the more subtle grace and splendor of “A Place Called Home” and “Horses In My Dreams.” The songs are strong and stirring throughout the entire record, without a real lemon in the bunch, and Harvey’s songwriting is simply polished and perfect. And by the time the final strains of the gorgeous “We Float” played out, I was breathless and completely blown away. This is a record that really ushered in the 21st century for me, musically, and still remains one of the most consistently stunning and impeccable albums I have ever heard.”

- Erik Thompson

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