Monday, February 19, 2007

Best of: 2000

Then: Again, I went with an Aimee Mann album – Bachelor No. 2 (or, the last remains of the dodo) (SuperEgo) – and, again, a fine album has nonetheless lost a little luster. Don’t know why exactly.

Now: Truth be told, for this series I’ve used my iTunes as a rough guideline, to discover which albums of each year that I now listen to the most. And I listen to PJ Harvey’s Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (Island) quite a lot. I loved this album when it came out – more than any other PJ Harvey music, most of which I’ve admired more than enjoyed – and it hasn’t failed me in the ensuing years.

The album opens with one of the few true rock anthems of the modern age, “Big Exit,” and manages to keep up that momentum for the rest of the running time. Other highlights include “Good Fortune,” the terror-sex-predicting “This is Love” and the torchy duet with Thom Yorke, “This Mess We’re In.” But the most impressive element of this album is the sound. It’s a real rhythmic album, with lots of chunky guitar riffs, but at the same time, the drums are mixed pretty low, especially by modern-day standards. (Don’t get me started on the way drums sound on most mainstream rock records these days.) While I love my share of loud drums – part of the appeal of Summerteeth, for example, is the fairly in-your-face drums – there is something to be said about an album like Stories from the City, which isn’t dependent on drums, can be quite atmospheric at times and yet always maintains a strong rhythmic pulse.


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