Sunday, 29 May 2011

REVIEW: PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

This has been long in the offing and far too delayed for a record of such decadent glory. All the same, the additional time allows me to confirm that 'Let England Shake' isn't simply an intriguing flash in the pan, but a bona fide contender for album of the year and, further down the line, 'classic' status.

All of which comes as a surprise to me, as I've unforgivably afforded Polly Jean Harvey precious little attention up to this point.

MP3: PJ Harvey - Written On The Forehead
Taken from 'Let England Shake', out now

Buy it at Insound!

By all accounts, the enigmatic songstress is something of a chameleon, so it's entirely possible that previous works simply haven't flipped my switch. 'Let England Shake', however, with its probing critique of my native land and engrossing songwriting depth, was always destined to change that.

The album has to be taken as a whole, which in and of itself is high praise as we find ourselves again in period where the single track is king. Fully realized, coherent albums still have a firm place in many of our hearts, though, and this is an example of why we love them so.

Across twelve engaging tracks, Harvey holds not only her country but the Western ideal up to a blazing spotlight. Equal parts acerbic wit and calm reflection, she channels renowned poets and artists to deliver judgement on war, history, and national identity, in uniquely styled vignettes. From the initial forward-thinking, off kilter bars of the opening title track, to the timeless classic slant on final track 'The Colour of the Earth', no genre boundaries limit 'Let England Shake'. Rather, it flows naturally across any style that fits the mood at hand, be that upbeat or down tempo.

In many ways I'm pleased to have little frame of reference against other works of Polly Jean. It allowed this one to simply wind its way around my synapses, exciting and intriguing in unexpected ways that few other releases have managed so far this year. More importantly, it's still doing so now. 

If you haven't been exposed to this lady's music as yet, I'm confident that 'Let England Shake' is a sound place to begin the adventure.

1 comment:

Jay Saenz said...

What a fantastic album!