Let England Shake – PJ Harvey

I have always thought that PJ Harvey was something special. I fell in love with her when I first heard “Down By The Water.” The seductive, grooving bassline combined with her powerful voice served as a complete contrast to some of the darkest lyrics that ever made it to MTV. Seriously, the song’s about drowning your daughter, and even though the tone is eerie, it’s not like Marilyn Manson creepy (or stupid I should say). I gave White Chalk a chance, but there were only a few tracks I could handle on that one. So when I heard that she was coming out with a new album, I was skeptical. However, I gave it a chance after hearing “The Last Living Rose.”

On first listen, I didn’t know what to make of the whole thing. It sounded very political and accessible, but I wasn’t sure if I could get into it. On the second listen, I dug it A LOT more. I was originally put off by the title track, “Let England Shake,” but on second listen, I dug it a lot more. The piano melody is simple but pretty and addictive. I don’t think there’s many bands that can make a piano line that makes me shake my head, but this is definitely one of them. If you put this side by side with “To Bring You My Love”, you probably wouldn’t think this is the same singer. But it is and it’s amazing to see how much she has evolved.

This album has a very English feel to it. Not English like the Beatles or Oasis, but think more along the lines of old English. It’s like she’s taking you down the streets of old London on a cloudy day. This feeling continues on tracks like “The Glorious Land”, which turns the traditional “charge” bugle into a melody that syncs up very well. Ms. Polly Jean Harvey always has tricks like this up her sleeve.

Thank God she brought back a few guitars on this album. Want to know why? Listen to the track “England.” It’s hauntingly beautiful and powerful. Other tracks that make me happy that she brought back the guitar include “Bitter Branches” and the previously mentioned track, “The Last Living Rose.” The latter’s rhythm guitar sounds like a slow dance song and almost invites it. Maybe I’m the only one who sees that, but honestly, it might be my favorite track on the album.

Most people might view this album as a criticism of England and how it’s lost it’s way. This is apparent on tracks like “All and Everyone”  and “Written On the Forehead.” However, I don’t think this is the case at all. Sure, she has a few quips with the motherland, but some tracks almost seem like she is appreciating all of it’s little flaws. From how dirty the city is to being locked up, her lyrics can be very dark, but at the same time, show that there is some beauty in the little things. The fact that tracks like “Written on the Forehead” and the closer “The Colour of the Earth” sound so uplifting helps to make for a great comparison.

Like I said earlier, this album may require more than one listen to get into, but I guarantee the second listen will make the album even better. Once you get a good idea of the style, the album is genius and deserves more than one listen.

Tour Dates

02-18 Brussels, Belgium – Cirque Royale
02-19 Brussels, Belgium – Cirque Royale
02-21 Berlin, Germany – Admiralspalast
02-24 Paris, France – Olympia
02-25 Paris, France – Olympia
02-27 London, England – Troxy
02-28 London, England – Troxy
04-14 San Francisco, CA – Warfield Theater
04-17 Indio, CA – Coachella
04-20 New York, NY – Terminal 5

The Last Living Rose 

Let England Shake

Written On The Forehead 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Stuff from the Past

%d bloggers like this: