Let England Shake - Island
FILTER Grade: 84%
By Scott Thill on March 23, 2011
PJ Harvey always explodes possibility when she shreds convention and tradition. Thankfully, she does just that on this Anglo-centric head-trip. It’s not that her structures or signatures, assisted by longtime collaborators John Parish, Flood and Mick Harvey, are out-of-the-box. But married with her alternately fractured and angelic delivery, beatific serenades like “England” or lo-fi stomps like “The Last Living Rose” crawl like nationalist nightmares out of Harvey’s brilliant brain. Her dream-pop is just as catchy; the title track floats over an ethereally narcotic beat. The amped thump, agricultural metaphor and fox-hunt horns transform “The Glorious Land” into a surreal anthem. The dirty rock of “In the Dark Places” enhances its dystopian visions of death and apocalypse. Sure, non-Europeans might find Harvey’s regional interest cloying as her clever experiment unwinds, but you write what you know, the adage goes. And when you’re Harvey, you write without fear or cliche, and cash in the cultural capital.