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Let England Shake
PJ Harvey Let England Shake
Released 11 February 2011

Flood, PJ Harvey, John Parish, Mick Harvey
Label Island
Length 40:14
Genre Alternative
Website www.pjharvey.net

Having come a little late to PJ Harvey’s tenth studio album Let England Shake I was quite surprised at how good it was. At first listen I was wondering what all the fuss was about. It certainly lives up to its reputation as being one of the top five albums in the 2011 end of year album polls.

I have to admit though that it took a few listens to really get my teeth into it and really appreciate this extraordinary set of songs all depicting conflict through war torn experiences. Lead single 'The Words that Maketh Murder' has some rather dark in-your-face lyrics, "soldiers fell like lumps of meat, blown and shot beyond belief".

Although the album is full with bleak lyrics of death the music itself is not all gloom and doom. Most of the songs are quite uplifting. 'Bitter Branches' is full of bouncy, jangly The Jam like guitar. On 'England' Polly Jean sounds like a bizarre concoction of Lykke Li and Bjork. 'Written on the Forehead' contains possibly the best use of a sample using Jamaican reggae singer Niney the Observer’s 'Blood & Fire' lyrics through the background of the song, repeating, "let it burn, burn, burn, let it burn, burn burn".

'Written on the Forehead' and 'All or Everyone' are the best tracks here displaying excellent use of the auto harp. Similar to a guitar but sounds somehow old fashioned.

Hats off to PJ Harvey for releasing a rather bold album. A mighty brave effort and one we’re very much thankful for. Stunning stuff. Certainly deserving of one of the top releases in 2011.

- Leon Byrne