on 10 August 2011
P J Harvey is, without any shadow of doubt, a national treasure. She has been responsible for making some great albums. She has helped me through some very difficult times when we have been overwhelmed with music of the utmost banality. With this album she has excelled herself. I have lived with it now since it was released and hardly a day goes by without me playing at least one track from it. It will be my album of 2011 as I cannot conceive anything better will come along in the next five months. I marvel at her genius. "All and Everyone" is truly outstanding and never fails to affect me. If there is any justice she should get the Mercury award for this but I doubt she will. Please buy it. Turn the light low, play it and listen. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
on 15 September 2011
I've never really listened to PJ, but after being subjected to all the hype surrounding this album, I decided to give it a listen. If I'm honest, I approached the album with a negative mindset, expecting to dislike it; dismissing it as a popular album given credence by the hype machine.
I am happy to admit I was totally wrong. So wrong in fact that I've listened to it daily over the past couple of weeks.
This is also the first album I can recall where I personally cannot identify any filler tracks. Each song is beautifully contained, often contrasting horrific dialog with sublime melodies. I love the production quality, being reminded more than a couple of times of Siouxsie.
All I can say is: what a fantastic album!
on 20 July 2011
I have only recently started to listen to PJ Harvey and find her very intruiging and different, much the same as Tori Amos and Bjork. They have similarities in that they are not frightened to put their own impact on music, are very creative and original, and have been commercially rewarded for that.
"Let England Shake" is quite a dark and sombre album, both lyrically and musically. The highlights for me are "The Glorious Land", "The Words That Maketh Murder" and "Written On The Forehead" which are very powerful indie folk songs and certainly provocative in their delivery. Even though they are quite eerie and have very deep lyrics, they are also very catchy. Another highlight, and by far the eeriest track of all is "On Battleship Hill", with haunting vocals. "Let England Shake", "All And Everyone" and "In The Dark Places" are very good and are also examples PJ's ability to put her message across very effectively, making a statement as she goes along.
My only critism and the sole reason why I have scored 4 stars is that quite a number of the songs are under 3 minutes long and sound more like excerpts of songs or even unfinished which is a shame. Nevertheless, it is a very strong offering and a breath of fresh air in 2011.
on 25 March 2011
An outstanding album, arguably her best, most heartfelt, full of insight, regret, anger, pathos, and a shawdowy beauty. And it's important, as we roll off to war again, pushed along by propaganda, and words that murder truth, to stop, for a second, and reflect, before it's too late. It's a mature record, that pulls no punches. She's almost like a seer screaming her warnings to a deaf world. She looks back at wars, looks around at wars, and points forward to more wars. Harvey seems to think that these ghastly wars don't just destroy the "enemy" but us, England, the England she loves, as is afraid has become a casualty too, like truth. A country involved in so much killing, eventually ends up killing itself.
on 19 October 2013
Make no bones about it, this is a great album and a different direction for Polly's sound. I wait expectantly for what she comes up with next. My previous favourite Polly L.P. is 'To Bring You My Love.'
My problem with this is the quality control of the records. I am on my second vinyl copy of 'Let England Shake' (the first one had lots of surface marks that affected playback) and again it has arrived in poor condition for a 'new' record.
The packaging was great, the sleeve is good quality thick cardboard, graphics are good and the vinyl is heavy weight and not warped at all. It does look like a monkey with greasy fingers has played with it, then packed it. The L.P. arrived in a cellophane sealed packet, so it left the production plant like this. I am sure Polly Harvey would not be pleased with this end result given the work she has put into creating what is musically a masterpiece.
The parts of the L.P. that are not affected by surface noise are sublime and sound way better than the c.d. (by some distance)
on 26 November 2012
An unbelievably fantastic album of haunting melodies and cutting lyrics depicting the carnage of the ungreat war. The first seven tracks in particular are masterpieces. This is the best album since The Cure's 'Disintegration' back in '89. A faultless album of the highest calibre with Polly's voice on perfect form throughout.
Polly Harvey has shown she has staying power and a visionary awareness as an artist.She won the Mercury Prize in 2000 when she watched from her hotel room a burning New York seared into her consciousness with 9/11.She has taken up the torch of the folk artist and war poet,inspired by Harold Pinter's anti-war poems.She has changed from her introspective piano-led last album,White Chalk and has donned the prophet's robes and sings in varying forms of tone,heightened,ethereal,whispered,ironical, angry.The first 6 songs are excellent,the last 5 tail off,but all are haunting us with images born out of warfare,battle,the craggy,blasted landscapes of a waste land,soaked by feelings of Albion through the centuries.Using various instruments: autoharp, saxophone,mellotron,zither,harmonica, trombone,guitar,the music is essentially simple,born of a moral sincerity,that lifts it above all other music.A masterpiece.
on 7 February 2014
Five stars for the music but things go downhill from there for the vinyl copy.
I returned the first as despite being sealed the record was covered in greasy fingerprints and had a lot of surface noise.
The second copy arrived in exactly the same condition, I decided to clean this with a Spin Clean Record Washer, this got rid of the fingerprints and some surface noise but it is still a noisy record. I have many 40 year old second hand records with less surface noise than this.
Not sure yet whether to return this copy but I expect the replacement will be no better as I see some other buyers have had the same problems.
2007's 'White Chalk' was a beautifully desolate affair. P J Harvey stripped
her muse down to a small pile of wind-blasted bones and brittle hair. It
was a wonderfully challenging work. Dark beyond the darkest void.
Her new album 'Let England Shake' is a different kettle of fish altogether.
This music eschews interiority and looks out into the world, slicing the
tainted air like a sword. Ms Harvey casts a critical gaze at the state of the
nation (and nationalism in all its many poisonous guises). The English
have never really had an appetite for revolution or anti-establishment
fervour. We watch and wait and wonder but on the whole choose not to act.
Challenging the status quo has been left largely to occasional maverick
visionary voices. The poetry of William Blake and Wilfred Owen; the films
of Derek Jarman (especially 1987's 'The Last Of England') With this extraordinary
album Ms Harvey, too, nails her manifesto to the mast and delivers a dozen new
incredibly powerful songs with inflammatory gusto and unrestrained passion!
She's angry and wants the whole wide, wicked world to know!
The overall ambience of the album is raw, open, acoustic and percussive.
The songs are quite the best she has written and her voice has never sounded
more focussed. There is real feeling here; in the politics and the clear damning
poetic vision of the brutality and the mindless stupidity of armed conflict!
Tracks such as 'In The Dark Places'; 'Bitter Branches' and the truly superb
'The Words That Maketh Murder' burn their stark messages into our minds
with unflinching visceral candour. Ms Harvey stares the very Devil (in us)
in the face and will not look away! Even in the most delicate moments, like
the fragile and almost pretty melody of 'Hanging In The Wire', there is no
respite from the project's overbearing sense of pain, loss and regret.
Ultimately 'Let England Shake' is about our own complicity in the madness of
the vile mechanics of war. Ms Harvey holds up a mirror to our country's broken
pride and forces us to look at our own reflection and responsibility within the
context of a wider world beyond the sheltered insularity of these ragged shores.
Final track, 'The Colour Of The Earth' literally bleeds with a deeply affecting
sense of pity and shame. A tiny anthem for broken dreams and a scathing
reminder of the hopeless waste and futility of war. A magisterial achievement.
I don't often review music on Amazon, just because taste and interpretation differs so much from person to person....
Having said that, I just had to review this totally original album that is without doubt destined to be an all time classic.
This is quite disimilar to PJ's earlier work, which I had never listened to prior to discovering this (her most recent) album.
I suggest potential buyers check out some key tracks on youtube (& the accompanying Seamus Murphey videos there are also a treat).
All of the tracks are fantastic & quickly grow on you, but the very best (in my opion) are "Battleship Hill", "The Glorious Land" & "Written on the Forehead".
PJ's highly original vocal mastery is truly impressive & all of the tracks seem to fit together perfectly.
I can't wait for her next.
PS: So yet again someone has come along who thinks thast he/she knows exactly what is "great music" & exactly what is not and given my wholly candid review an "unhelpful" vote.
As I had been completely honest about my personal appreciation in the album & tried to help those who might also enjoy it (by pointing them in the right direction so that they could pre-sample music & video from this album by PJ), I do find it actually quite hard to equate the review in terms of "unhelpful".
Clearly the voter is a musical bigot of the worst calibre who would basically have a world in which the arts are restricted purely to those styles that revolve around his or her own (limited) personal tastes :)!
Thanks for pointing out the error of my ways (dear open-minded voter), and just feel free any time you feel brave enough to leave a comment... just so that I peruse your own musical reviews and smatter them with my own prejudices.
I suspect you slammed this review because you prefer PJ's earlier work to this later album... I too very much like PJ's earlier work (now that I have listened to it as well), but actually still PERSONALLY prefer this latest album (I am probably in a minority, but surely Im allowed to like what I like)?
Get this, mate... The arts are a medium in which an infinitessimal rainbow of expression can be broadcast democratically & without supression. The nazis tried to limit peoples choices to what they considered "good art" around 70 years ago. Do you advocate a return to this or do you believe in the freedom of all to unhindered self-expression?
Different people will like different stuff. No matter how refined you believe your impeccable judgement as to the quality of something, there will always be a number of perfectly intelligent & discerning individuals out there who will feel completely differently about it.
Get a life and allow others to their own opinions...