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Rock - Released January 1, 2000 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Lauréat du Mercury Prize
During her career, Polly Jean Harvey has had as many incarnations as she has albums. She's gone from the Yeovil art student of her debut Dry, to Rid of Me's punk poetess to To Bring You My Love and Is This Desire?'s postmodern siren; on Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea -- inspired by her stay in New York City and life in the English countryside -- she's changed again. The album cover's stylish, subtly sexy image suggests what its songs confirm: PJ Harvey has grown up. Direct, vulnerable lyrics replace the allegories and metaphors of her previous work, and the album's production polishes the songs instead of obscuring them in noise or studio tricks. On the album's best tracks, such as "Kamikaze" and "This Is Love," a sexy, shouty blues-punk number that features the memorable refrain "I can't believe life is so complex/When I just want to sit here and watch you undress," Harvey sounds sensual and revitalized. The New York influences surface on the glamorous punk rock of "Big Exit" and "Good Fortune," on which Harvey channels both Chrissie Hynde's sexy tough girl and Patti Smith's ferocious yelp. Ballads like the sweetly urgent, piano and marimba-driven "One Line" and the Thom Yorke duet "This Mess We're In" avoid the painful depths of Harvey's darkest songs; "Horses in My Dreams" also reflects Harvey's new emotional balance: "I have pulled myself clear," she sighs, and we believe her. However, "We Float"'s glossy choruses veer close to Lillith Fair territory, and longtime fans can't help but miss the visceral impact of her early work, but Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea doesn't compromise her essential passion. Hopefully, this album's happier, more direct PJ Harvey is a persona she'll keep around for a while. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection du Mercury Prize
Following the tour for Rid of Me, Polly Harvey parted ways with Robert Ellis and Stephen Vaughn, leaving her free to expand her music from the bluesy punk that dominated PJ Harvey's first two albums. It also left her free to experiment with her style of songwriting. Where Dry and Rid of Me seemed brutally honest, To Bring You My Love feels theatrical, with each song representing a grand gesture. Relying heavily on religious metaphors and imagery borrowed from the blues, Harvey has written a set of songs that are lyrically reminiscent of Nick Cave's and Tom Waits' literary excursions into the gothic American heartland. Since she was a product of post-punk, she's nowhere near as literally bluesy as Cave or Waits, preferring to embellish her songs with shards of avant guitar, eerie keyboards, and a dense, detailed production. It's a far cry from the primitive guitars of her first two albums, but Harvey pulls it off with style, since her songwriting is tighter and more melodic than before; the menacing "Down by the Water" has genuine hooks, as does the psycho stomp of "Meet Ze Monsta," the wailing "Long Snake Moan," and the stately "C'Mon Billy." The clear production by Harvey, Flood, and John Parish makes these growths evident, which in turn makes To Bring You My Love her most accessible album, even if the album lacks the indelible force of its predecessors. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection du Mercury Prize
Dry was shockingly frank in its subject and sound, as PJ Harvey delivered post-feminist manifestos with a punkish force. PJ Harvey's second album, Rid of Me, finds the trio, and Harvey in particular, pushing themselves to extremes. This is partially due to producer Steve Albini, who gives the album a bloodless, abrasive edge with his exacting production; each dynamic is pushed to the limit, leaving absolutely no subtleties in the music. Harvey's songs, in decided contrast to Albini's approach, are filled with gray areas and uncertainties, and are considerably more personal than those on Dry. Furthermore, they are lyrically and melodically superior to the songs on the debut, but their merits are obscured by Albini's black-and-white production, which is polarizing. It may be the aural embodiment of the tortured lyrics, and therefore a supremely effective piece of performance art, but it also makes Rid of Me a difficult record to meet halfway. But anyone willing to accept its sonic extremities will find Rid of Me to be a record of unusual power and purpose, one with few peers in its unsettling emotional honesty. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternatif et Indé - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

The quiet ones are always the scariest. Polly Jean Harvey's appearance on the cover of White Chalk -- all wild black hair and ghostly white dress -- could replace the dictionary definition of eerie, and the album itself plays like a good ghost story. It's haunted by British folk, steeped in Gothic romance and horror, and almost impossible to get out of your head, despite (but really because of) how unsettling it becomes. White Chalk is Harvey's darkest album yet -- which, considering that she's sung about dismembering a lover and drowning her daughter, is saying something. It's also one of her most beautiful albums, inspired by the fragility and timelessness of chalk lines and her relative newness to the piano, which dominates White Chalk; it gives "Before Departure" funereal heft and "Grow Grow Grow" a witchy sparkle befitting its incantations. Most striking of all, however, is Harvey's voice: she sings most of White Chalk in a high, keening voice somewhere between a whisper and a whimper. She sounds like a wraith or a lost child, terrifyingly so on "The Mountain," where she breaks the tension with a spine-tingling shriek just before the album ends. This frail persona is almost unrecognizable as the woman who snarled about being a 50-foot queenie -- yet few artists challenge themselves to change their sound as much as she does, so paradoxically, it's a quintessentially PJ Harvey move. The album does indeed sound timeless, or at least, not modern. White Chalk took five months to record with Harvey's longtime collaborators Flood, John Parish, and Eric Drew Feldman, but these somber, cloistered songs sound like they could be performed in a parlor, or channeled via Ouija board. There is hardly any guitar (and certainly nothing as newfangled as electric guitar) besides the acoustic strumming on the beautifully chilly title track, which could pass for an especially gloomy traditional British folk song. Lyrics like "The Devil"'s "Come here at once! All my being is now in pining" could be written by one of the Brontë sisters. On a deeper level, White Chalk feels like a freshly unearthed relic because it runs so deep and dark. Harvey doesn't just capture isolation and anguish; she makes fear, regret, and loneliness into entities. In these beautiful and almost unbearably intimate songs, darkness is a friend, silence is an enemy, and a piano is a skeleton with broken teeth and twitching red tongues. "When Under Ether" offers a hallucinatory escape from some horrible reality -- quite possibly abortion, since unwanted children are some of the many broken family ties that haunt the album -- and this is White Chalk's single. What makes the album even more intriguing is that it doesn't really have much in common with the work of Harvey's contemporaries (although Joanna Newsom's Ys and Scott Walker's The Drift come to mind, mostly for their artistic fearlessness) or even her own catalog. It rivals Dance Hall at Louse Point for its willingness to challenge listeners, but it's far removed from Uh Huh Her, which was arguably more listenable but a lot less remarkable. In fact, this may be Harvey's most undiluted album yet. When she's at the peak of her powers, as she is on this frightening yet fearless album, the world she creates is impossible to forget, or shake off easily. White Chalk can make you shiver on a sunny day. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Retreating from the limelight after the tour for To Bring You My Love, PJ Harvey returned to her small hometown of Yeovil and isolated herself from most pop trends, eventually writing the material that would come to comprise her fourth album, Is This Desire? Released over three and a half years after To Bring You My Love, Is This Desire? has all the hallmarks of a record written in isolation; subtle, cerebral, insular, difficult to assimilate, it's the album where Polly Harvey enters the ranks of craftsmen, sacrificing confession for fiction. It's an inevitable transition for any artist, especially one as lyrically gifted as Harvey, and though her words are more obtuse and not as brutal, painful, or clever, she still draws some effective character sketches. Similarly, the music on Is This Desire? is hardly the immediate, blunt force that characterized her first albums, nor is it the grand theater of To Bring You My Love -- it takes its time, slowly working its way into the subconsciousness. There are a few guitar explosions scattered throughout the record, but it's primarily a series of layered keyboards, electronic rhythms, and acoustic guitars; it's so quiet that at times it barely rises above a murmur, and occasionally floats away without leaving a lasting impression. It seems to challenge the listener to accept it on its own grounds, but once you dig deeper, it winds up offering diminishing rewards. It is more concerned with texture than any of her previous records, but it doesn't push forward enough -- it's either standard hard rockers or mournful ballads underpinned by lite electronica beats, which would have more impact if they were more pronounced. Since Harvey is an extraordinarily gifted songwriter, the album is hardly devoid of merit, but it's her least focused or successful record to date. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Part of a series commemorating the second anniversary of legendary BBC DJ John Peel's death, PJ Harvey's The Peel Sessions 1991-2004 feels like a thank you and goodbye to a longtime friend. It should almost go without saying that these performances are great. As good as PJ Harvey's albums are, her concerts are even more striking, and her rapport with Peel just adds to the intimacy and intensity of these songs. The tracks from the October 1991 session that kick off the album account for a third of the entire album and may actually be better than the versions of these songs that ended up on Dry almost a year later. "Oh My Lover"'s lumbering guitars and "Victory"'s heavy, almost tangible basslines capture the formidable power and tightly controlled dynamics of the PJ Harvey trio at the time. However, the ecstatic version of "Water" is the standout, harnessing the full range of Harvey's amazing voice, from gently phrased verses to gasping shrieks at the song's end. From here, The Peel Sessions 1991-2004 takes some interesting twists and turns. Harvey hand-picked all the songs included here, and she makes some surprising choices (though maybe they shouldn't be, considering that she often puts unexpected songs in her live shows). Her version of Willie Dixon's "Wang Dang Doodle" (which also appeared as a B-side on the Man-Size single) is one of her most ferociously sexy and playful performances from the Rid of Me/4-Track Demos era, and it doesn't disappoint here; "Losing Ground," the creepy biblical punk of "Snake," and "This Wicked Tongue," a snarling rocker that was only on the Japanese version and first U.K. pressing of Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, are equally raw and direct. On the other hand, the almost-folk of "That Was My Veil" and hypnotic restraint of "Beautiful Feeling" show that the more reflective sound Harvey developed later in the '90s was just as gripping. Interestingly, the only single included from her post-Dry work is the final song, "You Come Through," which she performed at the Peel tribute held six weeks after his death (making lyrics like "golden wishes to your health and mine" that much more poignant). Here, as with most of her career, Harvey doesn't go for the easy choices -- something she and her friend definitely had in common. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternatif et Indé - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Since Steve Albini gave Rid of Me such an uncompromisingly noisy finish, it may have made sense for Polly Harvey to release her original demos, augmented by several unreleased songs, six months later as an album. After all, the initial British pressings of Dry came with a bonus disc of her demos. Still, the official, independent release of 4-Track Demos suggests that Harvey wanted to give these songs another chance for listeners who found Rid of Me too abrasive. Even for those who enjoyed Rid of Me, 4-Track Demos is a revelatory experience, since it arguably captures the raw emotion of the songs better the official record. A handful of songs from the record aren't repeated in demo form -- namely "Missed," "Man-Size," "Highway 61 Revisited," "Dry," and "Me-Jane" -- but they're replaced by the previously unreleased "Reeling," "Driving," "Hardly Wait," "Easy," "M-Bike," and "Goodnight," most of which are easily the equal of the songs that were actually released, and that's what makes 4-Track Demos necessary for every Harvey fan, not just collectors. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternatif et Indé - Released February 15, 2011 | Vagrant Records

PJ Harvey followed her ghostly collection of ballads, White Chalk, with Let England Shake, a set of songs strikingly different from what came before it except in its Englishness. White Chalk's haunted piano ballads seemed to emanate from an isolated manse on a moor, but here Harvey chronicles her relationship with her homeland through songs revolving around war. Throughout the album, she subverts the concept of the anthem -- a love song to one’s country -- exploring the forces that shape nations and people. This isn’t the first time Harvey has been inspired by a place, or even by England: she sang the praises of New York City and her home county of Dorset on Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Harvey recorded this album in Dorset, so the setting couldn’t be more personal, or more English. Yet she and her longtime collaborators John Parish, Mick Harvey, and Flood travel to the Turkish battleground of Gallipoli for several of Let England Shake's songs, touching on the disastrous World War I naval strike that left more than 30,000 English soldiers dead. Her musical allusions are just as fascinating and pointed: the title track sets seemingly cavalier lyrics like “Let’s head out to the fountain of death and splash about” to a xylophone melody borrowed from the Four Lads’ “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” a mischievous echo of the questions of national identity Harvey sets forth in the rest of the album (that she debuted the song by performing it on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show for then-Prime Minster Gordon Brown just adds to its mischief). “The Words That Maketh Murder” culminates its grisly playground/battleground chant with a nod to Eddie Cochran's anthem for disenfranchised ‘50s teens “Summertime Blues,” while “Written on the Forehead” samples Niney's “Blood and Fire” to equally sorrowful and joyful effect. As conceptually and contextually bold as Let England Shake is, it features some of Harvey's softest-sounding music. She continues to sing in the upper register that made White Chalk so divisive for her fans, but it’s tempered by airy production and eclectic arrangements -- fittingly for such a martial album, brass is a major motif -- that sometimes disguise how angry and mournful many of these songs are. “The Last Living Rose” recalls Harvey's Dry-era sound in its simplicity and finds weary beauty even in her homeland’s “grey, damp filthiness of ages,” but on “England,” she wails, “You leave a taste/A bitter one.” In its own way, Let England Shake may be even more singular and unsettling than White Chalk was, and its complexities make it one of Harvey’s most cleverly crafted works. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternatif et Indé - Released February 9, 2018 | Cognitive Shift Recordings

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Alternatif et Indé - Released October 23, 2019 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Alternatif et Indé - Released April 15, 2016 | Vagrant Records

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Dry

Rock - Released January 1, 1992 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Bandes originales de films - Released April 12, 2019 | Lakeshore Records

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Alternatif et Indé - Released April 28, 2017 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Alternatif et Indé - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Alternatif et Indé - Released February 9, 2018 | One Little Indian

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