Monday, 13 June 2011

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

PJ Harvey has had an outstanding long career covering many genres, from her roots in the early 90's, she used simple chord progressions and Pixies esque styles, she managed to gather a cult following. She was introduced to me around 2005, when I watched Strange Days which featured two songs from her album 'Rid of Me'.

Let England Shake manages to forget her musical pas and start again. All of her albums follow this pattern, but Let England Shake has a deeper lyrical theme than the rest. This album focuses on the heartbreak of war, the never ending wars which England are constantly involved in. The lyrics focus more on World Ward 1, but you can relate them to the modern day era, or even the 100 years war. 

The musical content then varies from Dream Pop like electric guitars, to Zither's and Autoharp's. The lyrics are the focal point here, they come across very detailed and strong. 'The Words That Maketh Murder' has these descriptive lyrics, used perfectly.

I enjoy listening to this album, each track has it's different lyrical visions. The music does change, it isn't repetitive or basic. It's very detailed, the percussion is extremely surprising here, I didn't expect that much attention to detail on the percussion. The piano work is minimal but when you listen careful, it fits in the song perfectly.

The track 'England' is as emotional as a track from this year will get, you can feel the pain not only in PJ, but of all the soldiers lost in war. "I live and die through England" She isn't an anarchist, she's a sucker for the great British countryside, these are all things you can pick up on whilst listening to this track. It's sang very well, it builds up and ends in sweet harmony. I cant pin point weak tracks, but strong tracks are visible, 'Bitter Branches', being one of the guitar based tracks, played up and down the frets. 

'Hanging In The Wire' is more of a cool down track, I like the piano playing, her lyrics work well, references to No Man's Land, and general war related imagery. The last two tracks, one of them uses a Reggae sample which surprisingly works with this style of music, Alternative I guess. This track again uses the Dream Pop like guitar shimmering. 

This album is very strong, it makes you come back for more. Some people can pick up on her voice being a negative, it depends on what vocal style you like, I for one am a fan of PJ, and welcome this album with open arms, big contender for the best album of 2011.


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