‘Let England Shake’, by PJ Harvey

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March 23, 2011 by Me and My Monkeys

'Let England Shake', by PJ Harvey
The Hitchcockian cover art of PJ Harvey’s latest album had me at hello.

As did the title, which made me muse…

  • Does ‘Shake’ mean a) to violently agitate, b) to clasp hands in agreement, or c) to fear and tremble?
  • Does ‘Let’ imply a) passive acquiescence/negligence, or b) an exclamatory call to arms?

All of the above, I hope. I’m a born sucker for this sort of stuff.

Inside the cd case is a 12 verse pastoral hymn set during the Battles of Agincourt and ‘Enduring Freedom’, narrated via PJ’s sensuous eulogies and battle cries.  Of course it’s not really any of this, but it’s certainly a [cliche alert] ‘concept album’, and there are a lot of war/anti-war themes interspersed with some anglais-nostalgia.  And PJ’s vocal form is somewhere between reasonable and inspired.  The title track gets you with it’s allusive time signature, and the rest of the album tries to gradually bore you, but fails.

All considered, ‘Let England Shake’ is part ‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society’, part Neil Young’s ‘Living With War’ and part Laurence Olivier’s ‘Henry V’.  It’s also at least 100% PJ Harvey.  None of these are bad things, unless you don’t happen to like her.

Recommended? For me, yes. You’ve got to be keen on her, though.

Out of 10? 8-ish. If you don’t agree, play it over.

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