Monday, February 14, 2011

PJ Harvey released Let England Shake

Let England Shake

PJ Harvey

Released: February 15, 2011

Peak: 32 US, 8 UK, 23 CN, 6 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.09 US, 0.17 UK, 0.26 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: alternative rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Let England Shake
  2. The Last Living Rose
  3. The Glorious Land (4/18/11, --)
  4. The Words That Maketh Murder (2/7/11, --)
  5. All and Everyone
  6. On Battleship Hill
  7. England
  8. In the Dark Places
  9. Bitter Branches
  10. Hanging in the Wire
  11. Written on the Forehead
  12. The Colour of the Earth

Total Running Time: 40:15


4.187 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Polly Jean Harvey may well be one of the most overlooked artists of her generation. Of course, she has routinely collected the rave reviews of music critics across the globe, but such is the power of her work…she should be revered as highly as all of the rock and roll greats.” FOLet England Shake proved Harvey was a true legend, no matter what century she was in.” FO

Harvey’s previous album, White Chalk, was a “ghostly collection of ballads” AMG but Let England Shake offered “a set of songs strikingly different from what came before it except in its Englishness.” AMG This is “more reserved than her earlier work” FO but still “another reminder of her sheer brilliance.” FO “Using her usually disturbing lyrical style, Harvey demonstrated her sincere artistry at every turn.” FO

The album was written over two-and-a-half years time. Harvey wrote the lyrics first and has cited poets like Harold Pinter and T.S. Eliot as influences. She also credited The Doors, The Pogues, and The Velvet Underground as musical inspiration. WK Initially she was looking to record the album in Berlin before settling on St. Peter’s Church, Eype, near Bridport in Dorset for a five-week recording session in April and May of 2010. WK

Ludovic Hunter-Tilney of Financial Times said the album “depicts a country poisoned by an unfinished century of bloodshed.” WK The Independent’s Andy Gill described it as “a portrait of her homeland as a country built on bloodshed and battle” WK while Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph explained it as “a meditation on mankind’s apparently endless appetite for self-destruction.” WK NME’s Mike Williams said, “Francis Ford Coppola can lay claim to the war movie. Ernest Hemingway the war novel. Polly Jean Harvey…has claimed the war album.” WK

“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.” AMG “Harvey leaves no stone un-thrown, as she takes aim at a society she believes to be crumbling.” FOThe 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.’” AMG

While exploring such themes, Harvey also experiments musically. Backed by a “xylophone melody borrowed from the Four Lads’ ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople),’” AMG she offers “a mischievous echo of the questions of national identity” AMG on the title track. “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.” AMG

“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.” AMG

The album received widespread critical acclaim, even making Harvey the first artist to win the Mercury Prize (given to the best album from the UK or Ireland) twice. McCormick said it was “a profound and serious work from a singer-songwriter at the height of her powers.” WK The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis called it a “richly inventive album” WK which captured Harvey “at her creative peak.” WK Meanwhile Q’s Victoria Segal praised the album for its “remarkable lyrics” and “ethereal music.” WK Ultimately, the album’s “complexities make it one of Harvey’s most cleverly crafted works.” AMG

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First posted 12/2/2011; last updated 4/28/2022.

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