Sunday, February 20, 2011

Let England Shake Album Review

This is PJ's 11th album. I really dont' know what to expect because she always changes styles between albums. I could have watched the videos of the 12 songs on Youtube, but I really didn't want to spoil the fun. I heard that this album is loosely "based on folk music from around the world" and that it "doesn't contain the Rockish Edge" that we usually associate with PJ. Anyway, I have high hopes for this album. I'm excited to hear it, but at the same time, I really don't know what to expect. I want it to sound better than White Chalk, but at the same time, I still want to hear more Auto harp centric songs.

As always, I will be doing the track-by-track review as I hear it, so if I don't like someting it might be because I haven't heard it and annalyed it fully.

1.Let England Shake
Guess I get the Auto harp that I wanted to hear. Like the vocal delay on this one so far. Another thing on the Vocals, they sound like a 60's influence. I also hear a saxophone. Is PJ really playing the saxophone? Will this album sound like Automatic Dlamini? The song just ends? Ok.

2.The Last Living Rose
Is this a "Yay England!" song? I don't have anything against it though if it is. More saxophone. This one sounds surprising upbeat & delicate, somewhat airy too. I'm guessing that this "Last Living rose is a metaphor for something. This one just came to a stop too.

3.The Glorious Land
Precession sounds good on this one. Some sampling. I wonder how this is going to turn out. Lyric wise, this has to be the reverse of "The Last Living Rose". Contrasting lyrics from this song to the other, is PJ Saying that "She loves this country, but hates when it is in war?";This might be a possible theme for album. The Refrain/Chorus is quite interesting "Oh America!/Oh England" Two country? This one is coming off as a protest song. Musically, this one sounds like the Cocteau Twins, just listen to the guitar, and vocals. And then it just ended.

4.The Words that Maketh Murder   
Interesting Precision/Auto harp/Opening. Looking at the Lyrics, this is coming off as another anti war protest song, this time it is about the people who fight the war. This one sounds like a familiar song but at the same time, it sounds quite different. "What if I take my Problem To the United Nations?". I wasn't expecting that line in this song, it comes off so quiet.

5.All And Everyone
This is the longest song on the album (5:08). Looking at the Lyrics, I'm guessing that this might be about Wars fought in the past: "Death was everywhere/in the air/and in the sounds/ coming off the mounds of Bolton's Ridge". I guess she is trying that death is on both sides in a war, and we should remember that. "Death Was Everywhere" "Death was in the ancient Fortress," "Death hung in the smoke and clung" "Death to all and everyone. I like how this one comes to a close.

6.On Battleship Hill
This one is starting off quickly, and I think I like it so far! I shouldn't say that it is upbeat, because the lyrics might contrast it (I was right, (1:05)). PJ really hits the high notes on this song. (Oh look, its upbeat again 1:45)). I guess she is decribing Battleship hill after the confict, "80 years later". This song hits the theme of the album pretty well "Cruel nature has won again".  So far, this song is my favorite. The ending wasn't really abrupt.

Another song about England. I wonder what preceptive she is taking this time. This song starts off with some whaling, and some sampled vocal track. I can hear some of her classic vocal delivery bleeding through. The lyrics "I have searched for your springs/but people stanate with time/like water or air" are pretty effective with the contrasting lines "Undanted, never-failing  love for you, England, is all, to which I cling."

8.In the Dark Places
Love the delivery on this one. Looking at the lyrics, it must be about troops that are traveling through the "Dark Places". You can almost hear some of the old PJ coming through.

9.Bitter Branches.
"Bitter Branches" has a good oppening and everythign sounds good so far. I'm guessing that it is another metaphor for something. I guess she making life a "tree" and "war" and "life" and "death" are bitter branches. The ending wasn't that great, but I'm used to that now.

10.Hanging In The Wire
We start off with "Walker" on the battlefield and "Ghosts Hanging in the wire". Very quiet song. I think that this one might be about people who died from land mines "in the wire".

11.Written On The Forehead
I heard this one before the album came out. I remember thinking "What is this? Is this really PJ Harvey? What's wrong with her?" Then I listened to it for a few times, and then I realized that it isn't "that bad. It might sound better with the other songs on the album around it. Now that I'm listening to it for a second time, I think I like it better. I like the imagery from the lyrics "People throw belongings/a lifetimes earrings/amongst the scattered rubbish/and suitcases on the sidewalk." I think the sampling is heavyset on this song. The sampling works on this song. It works with the lyrics, it works with the lyrics, it works with her voice. This song stands out on the album. (Want to hear the song she sampled?)

12.The Colour Of The Earth
This is the most depressing song on this album, it is fitting to close this one out.

This album is stellar. I'm calling this one early, but this might be my favorite album of 2011. Everything just sounds great. I really can't find a weak point in this album. It is more accessible than White Chalk. All the songs are really clear and I think I can listen to this whole album without skipping a song, which really doesn't happen too much. Overall, the album is very light and airy and is refreshing. I highly recommend buying Let England Shake, you won't be disapointed. If you didn't like White Chalk, then you will love Let England Shake.

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