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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Let England Shake

PJ Harvey

2011

Buy At Rough Trade
Let England Shake
Album Summary

Let England Shake is the eighth studio album by English singer-songwriter and musician PJ Harvey, released on 14 February 2011 by Island Records. Production began around the time of White Chalk's release in 2007, though it is a departure from the piano-driven introspection of that album. Let England Shake was written over a 2+1⁄2-year period, and recorded in five weeks at a church in Dorset during April and May 2010. Upon release, the album received numerous accolades. It was placed 2011 "Album of the Year" by 16 publications and in September 2011 won the coveted Mercury Prize. It was PJ Harvey's fourth nomination overall (including 2001's winner Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea), making her the most successful artist in the prize's history. The album also won the Uncut Music Award in November 2011, as well as Album of the Year in the 2012 Ivor Novello Awards.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.15

Votes

10497
Genres
Rock
Indie

Reviews

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Fri Nov 19 2021
2

Normally I like pretentious shit like this, but this one just felt like… well, pretentious shit. Like a female Thom Yorke without anybody to ground him.

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Wed Jun 16 2021
5

This was my first PJ, I feel like a fool

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Wed Jan 13 2021
4

Very coherent sound, dark but futuristic, relaxing but engaging, like an elf making a nick cave album. Has something of björk I'd say... Definitely sounds of maturity and maybe a bit of complacency, but not in a bad way.

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Thu Mar 10 2022
5

When I first listened to this album, I put this repeat for 3 or 4 times then I read the lyrics for each track and my first thought was how much research she should have done to write like this ? Then I found out she spent about two and half to three years on researching. It has definitely paid off. Brilliant album. These are highly poetic songs full of rich dreamy melodies which reminisces the poetry of Randall Jarrell. "Francis Ford Coppola can lay claim to the war movie. Ernest Hemingway the war novel. Polly Jean Harvey, a 41-year-old from Dorset, has claimed the war album."

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Wed Oct 20 2021
1

Anything making England sound good can fuck off

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Tue Feb 16 2021
1

1001 albums that to listen to before you die and/or before considering putting Let England Shake on deck in Spotify: play the White Album 1000 times and Clair de Lune once. Then die. Don't listen to Let England Shake. It's entirely about death anyways and 100% hell. I thought I liked PJ Harvey, but maybe that's just 90s PJ Harvey. Or maybe Liz Phair? I was absolutely fine living the rest of my life without listening to this one.

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Fri Dec 03 2021
1

I'm assuming that this was included on the list of albums to hear before I die just so I could understand how bad music can be. I've gotta check to see if my ears are bleeding now. Absolutely awful.

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Thu Dec 03 2020
5

She definitely doesn’t have as much gruff in her voice as her past records, but I think it suits her better. The intro track is a little odd. It’s not COMPLETELY blowing me away but I definitely enjoy it. The production from inside the church definitely has this cavernous feeling to it. Like you gotta lean in to it. Nice reverb to everything. GREAT instrumentation. It sounds pretty consistent, maybe “uniform” if you want to be harsh. Butevery track is super solid.

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Tue Mar 30 2021
5

The glorious land has a very nice trumpet sample. The last living rose is a very fulfilling song. I like how the album flows, on the first glance the songs show similarity on an level that it sounds like an concept album. Also, how PJ sings on this album (quite different than on other her albums). Awesome album, I really liked it.

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Sat Dec 04 2021
5

PJ Harvey’s songwriting skills are on full display with this powerful, poetic, impactful collection of songs lamenting the history of England’s wars and the West’s more recent military interventions. Harvey has assembled a team of talented musicians to produce a clear and consistent vision and the album is a cohesive, satisfying whole. The mood is sorrowful and contemplative whilst also pulsating with an insistent tempo and a laconic wit. Harvey’s vocals are soft and exquisite. This is a stunning record and a fine work of art.

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Mon Nov 29 2021
4

There's something in the instrumentation that compliments the subject matter perfectly. That autoharp has a ghostly quality about it that makes me thing of old-timey soldiers trudging off to war, and rugged, wintry English countryside. Not every track is a galáctico (The Last Living Rose and On Battleship Hill are my favourites) but as a self-contained album it's more the sum of its parts. 4.5.

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Mon Mar 01 2021
2

Gen X angst as it ages. I didn’t care for it.

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Thu Jan 28 2021
1

Not a fan, sounds confusing for me, I prefer other melodies, couldn't get to the end, had to stop listening it.

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Tue Feb 02 2021
1

Not sure what to say, usually a fan of PJ, didn’t really like it

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Fri Jan 14 2022
1

Not great, really folky (with an indie tinge to it as well). Reminds me of something Yoko Ono would have come out with at points.

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Tue Nov 02 2021
5

This is my favourite PJ Harvey album, it's ruddy good stuff.

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Mon Nov 01 2021
5

Completely new to me!! Really inventive and exciting. Not only have I never experienced PJ Harvey before, I've never heard other music I could compare this to. I think that makes this extremely clever and enticing. Love the mixture of sounds and the album kept my interest throughout.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
5

A perfectly polished PJ album with some interesting vocal and instrumentation changes. Her songwriting and delivery always pair well for me.

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Mon Dec 20 2021
5

PJ Harvey does not disappoint with a more delicate and wavering voice which communicates the disillusionment that is found throughout this album. The music is more atmospheric with jangly new wave inspired guitars which further build the sense of disillusionment and distrust

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Mon Apr 25 2022
5

I think there are two types of PJ Harvey. Great ones and greater ones. The power of the work is extraordinary, and the work is one of beauty notwithstanding the pervasive images of war. Time will tell if this is her career peak.

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Sat Jan 28 2023
5

Great PJ Harvey album, liked it more than the previous three PJH albums (after which I lost interest somewhat).

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Mon Feb 06 2023
5

wow. an incredible album. the lyrics, of course, were excellent, and i love the timbre pj sings with on this. the standouts were, of course, the sax and autoharp. not much else to say, a really excellent album.

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Tue Apr 25 2023
5

1001 has sent us other artists who've made left turns late in their career like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, but in those cases, I felt that they were doing it just to show respect to well-established performers and not because the album was outstanding. This album on the other hand is a brave change in direction, a full-on anti-war album with gruesome lyrics and imagery of sewage, decaying bodies and deformed children, all set to a dark, haunting, folk-based sound with minimal production. For me the LP takes a song or two to settle in then “This Glorious Land” is a shot to the solar-plexus (love the bugle) and it continues for the next 10 songs. The infrequent back-up vocals come in at just the right time and Harvey’s high-pitch voice is unrecognizable but beautiful “On Battleship Hill” and grating in “England”. My co-judge, listening to it over dinner, didn’t think the LP was a big deal, the songs weren't catchy, but that shows that it has to be listened to more intensely – and peeking at the lyrics once and a while helps. Not many song-writers read “modern-day testimonies from civilians and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan” for inspiration. I know a lot of anti-war songs but can't think of anti-war albums. This must be the best one ever?

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Wed May 10 2023
5

There comes a point in every PJ Harvey album when you realise you're hooked. This time it was On Battleship Hill. Once again I was lured in to the world she'd made. So I finished it and listened again. It's what you do with the glorious, varied genius that is Polly Jean.

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Sat May 21 2022
4

PJ est de loin la personne ayant fait les progrès les plus visibles sur le générateur. Après un premier album catastrophique sanctionné d'un 1, elle revint avec une nouvelle proposition couronnée d'un 3. Pour continuer sur cette lancée, je suis très content d'accorder un 4 à Let England Shake.

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Thu May 05 2022
3

This is the third PJ Harvey I have rated and I must admit, this one kept my interest the least. The earlier albums were more raw and hungry, while this one never connected with me maybe because it wasn't very interesting or unique. A bit too bland for my taste.

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Tue Feb 08 2022
2

What in the wordle? I'm not really sure that's how you play it, but it sounds good to me, so I'm going to go with it. This has the same classic PJ vocals, but seems even hauntier. Yeah, I just made up that word. Wordle it. The last few tracks here offer voices other than PJ (VOTPJ) more than we have experienced in the past, and some of them don't quite compliment as much as you'd like.

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Thu Feb 10 2022
2

Disappointed in this one - feels way too tame for a Harvey album. Missing the usual frenetic, undeniable energy of her past LPs and feels deflated and limpid as a result.

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Thu Feb 17 2022
2

I really don't get it. One of the songs I had to mute because it was squeeling and I thought something was wrong with my car

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Wed Feb 23 2022
2

Why do I have such a problem listening to PJ Harvey?!

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Fri Feb 25 2022
2

Lots of polyphony which was interesting, but not fun to listen to a lot of the time. It was not my cup of tea. She's interesting and definitely a musical pioneer. It just wasn't enjoyable for me.

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Mon Mar 28 2022
2

This is the third PJ Harvey album we've had and listening to half of it was enough to give this album the same rating as the other two. It's weird, unpleasant and I can't hear any justification for this album's inclusion on this list.

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Mon Apr 25 2022
2

Meh. Not really for me. I think I might have appreciated the more political songs if I was a bigger lyrics person but nothing melodically gripped me here.

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Tue Aug 30 2022
2

Meh. This album was boring. I've really got no other word for it. I thought I'd be able to get into some of the dark concepts around this album, but I didn't find myself becoming interested at any point. In fact, it almost felt like it was trying too hard, and came off as pretentious. This was another album where I didn't feel like it warranted the "must hear before you die" label. This was my second PJ Harvey album on this project so far, and I know there are many, many more to come, and I'm just wondering...why? What is this author's obsession with them?

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Sat Apr 17 2021
1

I can't do anymore quirky clap clap

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Fri Jan 22 2021
1

i don't get it. not my thing

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Tue Feb 22 2022
1

Let England Shake by PJ Harvey (2011) This is a concept album, and the concept is intense, but naïve. PJ Harvey writes songs depicting the horrors of war, especially those fought by the English (specifically WWI and the more recent wars in the Middle East), as if generations of soldiers had not composed literature treating the theme more authentically and powerfully. She laments the fact that England achieved greatness with bloodshed, apparently unconcerned about possible alternatives. In other words, her worldview is shaped by horrified indignation and spiced with gore, without providing any evidence of an awareness of either history or political science. Musically, it’s a mess, and she should have either revisited her decision to play saxophone or she should have tuned it to the guitar. Rarely have I been so eager to hear the final strains of the closing track. 1/5

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Wed Oct 25 2023
1

This album makes me proud that the USA seceded from England.

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Tue Apr 27 2021
5

Really really good. Not sure how this rolled past me 10 years ago :thinking_face:

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Tue Jun 15 2021
5

really enjoyed this! it's gentle and peaceful and much better than her others, liked her vocals and the music was super easy to listen to. 9

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Sat Jun 12 2021
5

Endlich wieder pj Harvey!! Toll toll toll!!!

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Thu Mar 25 2021
5

Epic! Love this genre, maybe make it mine?

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Fri Jun 18 2021
5

British people are okay, I guess. Genuinely had a nice time listening to this. I had a feeling I'd like this but I didn't think I'd feel so calm listening to this.

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Sun Aug 01 2021
5

Cool, might be on my rotation.

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Thu Dec 09 2021
5

PJ :sydän: Tää saa kummasti aina kaipaamaan brittien sumuisille kukkuloille

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Wed Feb 23 2022
5

I can't believe this album is over 10 years old still think of it as being current. ii quite like PJ but this album blew me away when I first heard it. the vision of it is staggering and quite unique. the visceral lyrics play on the horrors of war of the cultural constructs of nations. the music is amazing, distorted guitars, bulges and autoharp makes an altered sound. but back to the central album question what is it? this one answers by the fact the songs hang together all part of a shared vision of a something unique brutal and beautiful.

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Sun May 15 2022
5

It's like the angriest most darkly produced folk you can get, I really love this album.

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Thu Jun 02 2022
5

Interesting throughout and her voice is perfect.

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Wed Jun 22 2022
5

Well this is unlike the PJ Harvey I'm familiar with - way less abrasive and raw, this is dreamy and folky, and I can't help feeling a little sinister... PJ Harvey does the Wicker Man! Fave track - "The Words That Maketh Murder", perhaps? Will definitely be coming back to this album....

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Wed Jun 22 2022
5

What a hammer-blow of an album.

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Thu Jun 23 2022
5

I’ve been hearing that this album is great since it came out and I’m dumb for not listening to it until now because it is great.

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Sun Jun 26 2022
5

The mere fact that two decades in since the start of her musical career, and after all the great albums she put out, PJ Harvey managed to conceptualize, write, and record one of the top three LPs she's ever released justifies the presence of "Let England Shake" in this list. What we have here is a very rare animal. It's a loose concept album about war and its weight on the English collective consciousness, but this admittedly ambitious conceit never goes in the way of the overall musicality and individual strength of the songs gathered for said record's tracklist. Those songs are indeed some of the most memorable she ever penned, between the lively numbers "Let England Shake", "The Words That Maketh Murder" (and its infectious male background vocals by Mick Harvey and longtime producer John Parish), and the cavalry horn-propelled "In The Glorious Lands", not to mention all the poignant ballads interspersed in the middle of thdm ("The Last Living Rose" and "All And Everyone" come to mind here, even if none of those already great cuts can can match with "In The Dark Places" and its epic finale--hear those moving voices lamenting about a world born out of WW1 trenches and weep, dear listener). Parish's production of those admirable compositions is balanced, dynamic and subtle--rarely has auto-harp in a "rock" album sounded so good before--and Polly Jean's vocal performance is one-of-a-kind--each inflexion of her voice, from shrill and eccentric adlibs to lower and more grounded moments, clearly telling the listener that she is inhabited by many different characters in the course of her musical yarn. Add lush brass to the mix as a colorful conterpoint, and the end result is one of the best albums of the 2010s, and certainly the best record of 2011. Number of albums left to review or just listen to: 878 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 66 (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 30 Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): 27

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Mon Jul 11 2022
5

I've always liked PJ Harvey, but never enough to listen to her albums. This changed my mind, in a good way.

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Mon Aug 29 2022
5

An angry and impassioned commentary on the realities and futility of war, juxtaposing those who start wars with those who have to fight them. Musically and lyrically innovative and unique. The singing of critical lyrics of war over music that is reminiscent of traditional English folk is striking and clever. Form and function perfectly in sync to devastating effect. An artistic triumph and essential listening. Rating: 5/5 Playlist track: The Glorious Land Date listened: 26/08/22

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Sat Sep 03 2022
5

How did I ever miss this album? One of the best of the last 20+ years, at least. Highly recommended.

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Sat Oct 08 2022
5

Everything but the recording points to this being the exemplary English-folk-rock release in recent decades. That first property even points straight back to Harvey herself, and the grimier overall sounds of earlier releases. One is tempted to say "darker", but the lyrical material on Let England Shake represents as much darkness as anything, the smooth elegant choking kind. The listening experience was inviting, even in the context it occurred in. It's like Björk but further in English, and I must be true to that impression.

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Mon Oct 31 2022
5

I've adored & worshipped PJ ever since I heard Sheela-na-gig way back in the day. Constantly evolving, constantly changing, constantly delivering some of the finest albums known to humanity.

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Mon Dec 05 2022
5

"Let England Shake" is the eighth studio from PJ Harvey. The album was recorded in a Dorset County church in five weeks and won the 2011 UK Mercury Prize. Lyrically, this is an intense affair as PJ sings about war, portraits of war and the devastation of World World I typically from the vantage point of a soldier. Speaking of singing, PJ uses a much a higher octave-voice almost a like little girl than her previous more mature voice. I think it works extremely well. PJ spent a few years researching World War I and modern soldiers who were in Iran and Afghanistan. Quite an effort and it pays off big time. A rolling beat and autoharp start "Let England Shake" almost sounding like The Doors which is no accident since she listed them along with a lot of others as influences for this album. The PJ high octave voice. Commenting on those who lost their lives in the Gallipoli War. Multiple singers give the second single "The Glorious Land" almost a sing-along feel . Although with the horns and guitar this ends up more a March. About America bombing Japan. The autoharp which she learned to play proir to this album stands out in the first single "The Words that Make the Murder." Happy sounding music as she sings about the atrocities of war. As many of you know, I'm a fan of dichotomies and contrasting things. In the second half, PJ rips off a few rockers and I thought I might be listening to "Rid of Me." "In The Dark Places" rocks with an electric guitar, builds tension and features a trombone. A soldier wakes up, scans his war field and ends with him hiding in the forest with his gun. "Bitter Branches" continues with a fast-paced guitar. PJ screaming. We're back to 1992 PJ. A soldier dying and will eventually be in the ground. "Written on the Forehead" is the third single and probably my favorite song on the album. Dreamy-like with piano. We're back to high-pitched PJ. Emotional. Beautiful in its sound. More about war images in the Middle East. A background voice talking about fires and ending with PJ singing "Let it burn." This is a great album. It might be my favorite PJ one and she has some very, very excellent albums. A must listen.

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Wed Dec 08 2021
5

PJ Harveyn teki aikoinaan kiinnostavaksi se, että hänen musiikkinsa kuulosti miehen tekemältä. Tai pikemminkin 15-vuotias minä koki suuren valaistumisen: tyttökin voi kuulostaa TÄLTÄ, kun siihen asti olin fanittanut pelkkiä miehiä tai poikia. Noihin aikoihin verrattuna nämä uudemmat levyt kuulostavat vähemmän yllättäviltä, mutta yhä toki kovin kauniilta. Harvemmin tulee kyllä tätä kuunneltua, toivottavasti listalla on vanhatkin PJ:t.

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Tue Jan 10 2023
5

This is an intriguing album, I had listened to it before but never really penetrated it until now. I'd like to look up the lyrics a bit more because they seem to have some quite specific historical references. I'm wavering between 4 and 5 stars for this one, but I'm feeling generous after getting several very mediocre albums in a row, so I'll give it a 5.

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Tue Jan 17 2023
5

It’s a smart and catchy set of songs — especially the first four tracks. This is a must-listen 2010s rock album!

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Thu Jan 26 2023
5

An incredible concept and brilliantly executed. "Written on the Forehead" is a bop and the whole record is flawless. This is a 5+/5.

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Mon Feb 06 2023
5

Really enjoyed this, great album!

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Sun Feb 19 2023
5

The Parker Posey of rock. Every performance is beyond great, different from all the others, and yet completely underappreciated from a mass popularity standpoint. Polly Jean famously only sought to have each album be different from her previous work (which is sort of like Parker Posey now that I think about it). The Brits get Harvey more than the States every have. Some day PJ Harvey is going to get her just desserts in the US and be nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It'll probably take a Kate Bush/Stranger Things sync of some sort. I believed such a thing was about to happen last year when Down By The Water was used in Yellowjackets. Maybe that would have occurred if that series was on Netflix instead of Showtime. The great news for Polly Jean Harvey - and all of us - is that she's not done making music yet.

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Sat Mar 11 2023
5

What an album! I have listened to many of the older stuff by PJ Harvey, but I have never looked at the newer record, like "Let England Shake". And as it happens quite frequently, it was a great mistake. This album is definitely as close to my liking as possible, with melancholic, original sound, reminding me of less black metal-ish Chelsea Wolfe, or A. A. Williams. I love the atmosphere of the whole package, unusual vocal by PJ and catchy and rather sad melodies, riffs and beats. Also, the lyrics are deeply emotional and actually quite relevant. I was also surprised to hear that this album was recorded by Mick Harvey (apparently a coincidence), long standing contributor to Nick Cave and Bad Seeds. And well, it makes sense - if you will compare some of the albums by PJ Harvey and older (or even more recent) records by Nick Cave - they all have that melancholic vibe and style, which attracts me to their music. It is a great album and straight away I will look for a vinyl LP for my collection.

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Mon Mar 20 2023
5

- Heard this before - Great, great album - Surprised by how low the average rating on this website is for it - Probably prefer this to her older ones - Like every single song on this - Fav songs: The Last Living Rose, The Words that Maketh Murder, The Glorious Land

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Tue Mar 21 2023
5

I had overlooked her when she first came out. In recent years I realize now what I was missing. Great music with enough challenge in there to make it interesting.

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Sat Apr 01 2023
5

the songs rattle through at a fair clip, with the perfect back wash of reverb, understated instruments and Polly hitting the spot

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Mon Apr 17 2023
5

This may not be y favorite PJ’s work, but definitely it has a special place. The thematic, sound palette, and mood felt all over the album is well- defined and unique. It is a sort of critique to England, its chauvinism, and traditions that is not offensive, but sincere. I don’t think we have any filler on this album. Each song needed to be there. My personal favorite: Written on the forehead.

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Tue Jun 13 2023
5

Listen to it again. And again.

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Fri Jun 23 2023
5

Qué buena es! Me recuerda, a veces, a Clap your hands and say yes.

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Mon Aug 28 2023
5

I kept listening to "Let England Shake" over and over, trying to figure out why I liked it so much. Or whether I liked it that much? It was somewhat in the background while I was working, so I wondered if paying more attention would reduce my appreciation. But every time I came away really enjoying it. Different from early PJ Harvey, to be sure, but I dug it. And then dug it again. And again. Glad there's more PJ Harvey yet to come, and I see why she is the only artist with 4 Mercury Prize nominations and 2 wins.

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Thu Nov 02 2023
5

Let England Shake The Last Living Rose All And Everyone On Battleship Hill England

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Thu Nov 16 2023
5

finally some polly jean !!! i’m an unabashed stan i love this album - beautiful intense lyricism and interesting instrumentation i think PJ is one of the coolest songwriters out there, it’s remarkable to take a rly alienating concept and make something compelling and accessible like this i also think it’s exciting that later in her career she did something that was such a departure from her earlier work and still made an album that is true to her identity as an artist i love you polly 😍😍😍😍

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Thu Nov 16 2023
5

Smart, funny, sad, weird!! Incredible. Can’t wait to go down the pj hole

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Fri Dec 01 2023
5

I’ve never listened to PJ Harvey so this was a pleasant surprise. Really enjoyed this.

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Thu Jan 04 2024
5

Qué buena es! Me recuerda, a veces, a Clap your hands and say yes.

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

Before I listen to this I am writing down that I've always thought this is one of the ugliest album covers ever made. After listening, that was as good as expected, very

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Sun Feb 04 2024
5

Let England Shake: 5/5 The Last Living Rose: 5/5 The Glorious Land: 4/5 The Words That Maketh Murder: 4/5 All And Everyone: 5/5 On Battleship Hill: 5/5 England: 4/5 In The Dark Places: 4/5 Bitter Branches: 5/5 Hanging In The Wire: 5/5 Written On The Forehead: 4/5 The Colour Of The Earth: 4/5 Avg.: 4.5

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Fri Mar 01 2024
5

Used to own Down by the Water which I really liked but I feel this album really shows her maturity as a songwriter. All songs are great. Less quirky than previous work but that's not a bad thing. A pleasant album I will listen to again.

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Tue Jan 05 2021
4

Timeless sound and feel to the album, harkens back to a Scott Walker grandiosity in scope and tone

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Mon Jan 11 2021
4

My introduction to PJ Harvey. Really good album, cool vibe.

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