At its core, Let England Shake, the tenth album by English singer-songwriter PJ Harvey, is a protest album in the grand folk tradition. Blunt and brutal imagery is used throughout as she condemns the mental and physical toll of war (WWI, Iraq, and more broadly, human conflict, in general) and the misguided exceptionalism of the men who started those wars. However, once you put aside the lyric sheet, you are transported to a land brimming with uncommon delight — The glittering guitar on “The Glorious Land,” and the operatic vocals on “On Battleship Hill,” are so stark they effectively mask the count of dead, deformed, and orphaned quickly accumulating during the narration of these twelve, dire tracks. This same duality makes that dirty old town depicted in “The Last Living Rose,” a home worth longing for, and enables “Hanging in the Wire,” a duet with long-time collaborator, Mick Harvey, with its warm keyboard tones and quietly assured vocals, to hide its gruesome scene of unburied soldiers. Without its light music, Hanging in the Wire,” and Let England Shake, as a whole, would be too much for any man to take. With its complex soul in tact, however, it offers a sense of hope rarely paired with such grim scenes (Maybe we aren’t cursed to repeat the mistakes of our fathers), and presents itself as an album of such wonder that it can only be deemed as a work of greatness. 9 out of 10 on The Rockometer.
- March 26, 2015
Much like the beloved American sitcom, Seinfeld, a show about nothing, Courtney Barnett's debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, managers to be highly entertaining while working with the most banal source material. Man plays hooky from work. Couple goes house hunting. Courtney swims. Courtney buys groceries. These are but a sampling of the seemingly ordinary scenes recreated over the course of eleven songs. There's even a track, "Small Poppies," where Barnett thinks about moving the lawn. She doesn't actually cut the grass, mind you, she just thinks about it. Read More