It’s a PJ kinda week/month.
Second album to review by Harvey, and I am still floored by how good she is. It wasn’t like that at first. I thought this album was kinda weird.
Then again, I’ve listened to lots of albums that were weird and they ended up being some of my favorites. Let England Shake has really grown on me. It might like it better than To Bring You My Love. In fact, I think it is.
Stylistically, it’s much different from her past work. It’s sedate, refined, and apocryphal. She uses a lot of imagery that evokes WWI, and war in general. It’s sort of folky and protesty, but not really. Most of the songs feature jangly guitar and piano, and it feels very minimalistic and bare bones (in a good way). Harvey’s voice goes high here, soaring way into the soprano (“On Battleship Hill”). That husky voice of albums past is mostly gone here, and the range really shows her versatility.
The lyrics and mostly somber attitude of the songs make this a contemplative album. The albums carry themes of death, and they lyrics are downright chilling. (“The scent of thyme carried on the wind/Stings my face into remembering/Cruel nature has won again/Cruel nature has won again”).
Harvey’s lyrics here are at her best, in my opinion. She captures the sadness of how pointless all wars seem years after they happen. Wars always seem so important to the people fighting them at the time. It is only looking back, years later, that we wonder what it was all for. The wise among us wonder what it is all for now. It makes me wonder how future generations will judge all the conflicts our political leaders lead us into; the same way, perhaps, we judge the conflicts of WWI as pointless and futile in retrospect?
I will definitely be listening to this a lot more. PJ has release perhaps her greatest treasure with this one. It’s rare that an album makes me think as much as this.