Universal acclaim - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. Chiming, richly textured and potently rhythmic, this is starkly, explicitly rock n' roll, and the back-to-basics approach beautifully frames Polly's tales of fear, love, sex, sadness, ugliness, and beauty.
  2. If Nirvana and Robert Johnson are rock's essence for you, so's To Bring You My Love. But if you believe the Beatles and George Clinton had more to say in the end, this could be the first PJ album you adore as well as admire.
  3. Her strongest work since 1995's To Bring You My Love.
  4. This back-to-basics approach gives dynamic focus to Harvey's lyrics, which tantalize with their taut, elliptical precision.
  5. A beautiful album that even non-Harvey fans might relate to, Stories is an undeniable, unrelenting triumph.
  6. 90
    The aptly titled Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea plays like an almanac of her adventures of the past few years, and reflects a newfound sense of self. Her songs once again reek of sexuality -- sometimes frustrated, sometimes satisfied -- resulting in alternating episodes of blistering, trashy, gutter guitar rock, and keyboard ballads of sheer melodic grace. She also reveals a greater command of her vocal abilities (with all the shrieks now in just the right places), and inspired new lyrical dashes.
  7. The album drags a bit near the end, but there's not a bad song on it, bursting out of the gate with the instant classic "Big Exit" before stringing together a bevy of strong material. But Stories From The City doesn't fully reveal itself as a classic until its astonishing midsection, particularly the rip-roaring "Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore" and the breathtaking "This Mess We're In." The former is one of the most bracing, thrilling songs of Harvey's career, and it's followed immediately by the latter, a gorgeous duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke.
  8. This is one of the best albums of 2000.
  9. Stories is rich with texture and memorable melodies.
  10. 90
    Stories is a leaner, less experimental-sounding record than 1998's Is This Desire, its chips stacked on visceral power and vitalising vocals.
  11. PJ Harvey's best album since 1991's 'Dry', a return to the feral intensity of that remarkable debut.... The clarity of the electric guitars played by Harvey, Rob Ellis and Mick Harvey is enough to make you fall in love with elemental rock all over again.... You could quibble Harvey has absolved her responsibilities by making an album earthed in the New York sound of 20 or 30 years ago. But when rock is so invigorating, so joyous about love, sex and living, all arguments are null and void.
  12. The Wire
    Given her capacity to align reinvention with a developing maturity, the 13 lucky songs of Stories deliver a complex text. It is certainly less frenetic, as if Harvey is finding new ways to exert her presence. In addition, its thoughtful spaces and pauses suggest room for doubt and manoeuvre. [#202, p.49]
  13. Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea has to rank as a work more musically accessible than her early material and more emotionally direct than her later stuff. It's an intriguing song cycle that stands up to -- and in fact, demands -- repeated listenings.
  14. The happiest-sounding album she's ever made.... it may also be the best. While her austere sonic signature remains, the vocals are discernibly more relaxed, the tunes welcoming and even expansive.
  15. She has always been a good songwriter -- experimental, dynamic, probing -- but here she demonstrates that she has the potential to be a truly masterful one. With newfound clarity and restraint, and with her usual wit, she examines the ways in which we try to convince ourselves that we are safe in an unsafe world.
  16. The swampy exotica that was draped around both 1995's To Bring You My Love and '98's Is This Desire? has been forgotten: as proved by the likes of Big Exit and the pleasingly frantic Kamikaze, the dominant sound is that of a three-piece garage band, fused with enough production panache to prove that Harvey remains an admirably intelligent auteur.
  17. The allegories and metaphors of her previous work are replaced with direct, vulnerable lyrics, and the album's production polishes the songs instead of obscuring them in noise or studio tricks.
  18. Spin
    Harvey is the strange case for whom a return to straight guitar-bass-drums is risky--it might be mistaken for mere rock. But she has no mere in her. [12/2000, p.215]
  19. 80
    The combination of bombastic musings and ethereal compositions is not simply a grab bag of past accomplishments, or a recycling of what works, but a record that yields a wholly different result: An easy sounding album, upbeat and surprisingly positive with not much forced.
  20. It embraces rock guitar again with the same gulping pleasure with which Harvey is for once embracing her man.
  21. This time around Polly's drama school project is playing a Rock Star, and therefore this must be a Rock Record. And from the opener 'Big Exit', a simplistic, effective stomper so swathed in echo that she seems to be singing from the bottom of a pit, to the raucous semi-bonus 'This Wicked Tongue', it's just that, a back to basics special.
  22. Harvey's first five discs were startlingly complete conceptions. "Stories From The City" shows the same genius -- only in fits and starts.
  23. On her fifth solo release, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, she may be maturing, or more vulnerable, or more vulnerable to her maturity. But regardless, the sheen gets slicker and her music gets duller as the time passes.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 107 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 98 out of 107
  2. Negative: 2 out of 107
  1. ofan
    Feb 10, 2005
    just like a script for a movie, great story in it
  2. May 30, 2016
    This album is just too amazing, it's beautiful and furious at the same time, probably my favourite record from miss PJ Harvey, which is aThis album is just too amazing, it's beautiful and furious at the same time, probably my favourite record from miss PJ Harvey, which is a great artist. Full Review »
  3. Sep 25, 2012
    PJ Harvey's most famous album as well as her most acclaimed, this record shows the aging Polly trying to feel her love in the city ambient.PJ Harvey's most famous album as well as her most acclaimed, this record shows the aging Polly trying to feel her love in the city ambient. And so she does, and it's a beauty. More pop than ever, she managed to make herself commercial regardless not being a sell-out artist. The songwriting is as bold as ever, and the dark sounds of both 'To Bring You My Love' and 'Is This Desire?' remains knocking our ears, but the tones of happiness subdue it. One of the best album of the 00's. Full Review »