Let England Shake shakes up PJ fans’ expectations
March 1, 2011 · Print This Article
P.J. Harvey’s eighth album Let England Shake is a politically charged yet melodic masterpiece about war and the hardships of battle. After two years since she released A Woman A Man Walked By, Polly Jean returns to the scene with this eerie 12-track collection of the kind of music that made us love her previous work.
Vaguely reminiscent of English folk, something about this album is a lot catchier than her earlier songs; I think it is only an improvement to her style. Her lyrics are generally pretty heavy and the slightly more poppy sound this time around makes it more accessible to a larger audience. In fact, the first time I listened to it, I didn’t really take in the lyrics and it just sounded like mellow music but the more you hear it the more the words get stuck in your head. Her first track, also titled “Let England shake” is a perfect example of the melancholic, still off-the-beaten-path style she has now gotten down to a science.
According to a review from National Public Radio, Harvey waded through piles of war footage for inspiration however I am unsure how she could do that and still come off sounding so cool and collected in her work. One would expect something a little more in-your-face from any other artist but this album whispers truths in a creepy, unexpected way that catches the listener off guard. It is an interesting way to convey her message, and she did just that in the 40 minutes of this album. The mysticism that I have always found in Harvey’s unpredictable music is still there, however it is a slightly different flavor from her older tunes.
Let England Shake disturbs you just enough and keeps you coming back for more. It is definitely worth a listen or 10. I would even suggest checking out Harvey’s tour dates for this year to witness this magical music live. Too bad it seems every show is already sold out.
Let England Shake was released on February 14, 2011 on Island Records. For tour info visit pjharvey.net