Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. 100
    This is the best album for 2011, and not just the last two months.
  2. Feb 16, 2011
    100
    Amid the carnage and the stink of loss, PJ Harvey creates inspiring beauty.
  3. Feb 15, 2011
    100
    Let England Shake may be Harvey's less vainglorious manifestation, but it is also her most intoxicating. Rather than exposing a personal voice, she exercises her political inquietudes with studied intellectualism.
  4. Feb 15, 2011
    100
    For all its despair at the cost of war, this is not a protest record, rather a consideration of our place in the greater scheme of things.
  5. Feb 15, 2011
    100
    Her state-of-the-nation address. Stunning. [Feb. 2011, p. 112]
  6. 100
    Let England Shake is an album that only the Polly Harvey of today could have written.
  7. Feb 15, 2011
    100
    The double in the room on Let England Shake is the whole modern world. PJ Harvey has given us a righteous scare.
  8. 100
    Harvey uses the bright grooves to present her grim thoughts on the world's armed conflicts. It's a hoedown for the end of civilization.
  9. Feb 10, 2011
    100
    You're left with a richly inventive album that's unlike anything else in Harvey's back catalogue.
  10. Feb 17, 2011
    91
    The muted atmosphere shouldn't fool anyone, though; Shake is an album so roiling with poetic indignation, all it can reasonably do is steam.
  11. A dimly lit, lo-fi hybrid, Shake takes its cue from some of Harvey's most successful past works, but has its own uniquely brash textures.
  12. Feb 25, 2011
    90
    Her latest album marks yet another sea change, a clanging, clamoring work of art that's as disturbing as it is moving. Let England Shake is staggering, from its seasick melodies to its visceral imagery of soldiers falling like "lumps of meat."
  13. 90
    Since PJ Harvey is a veteran artist who, in her 20-year career, has yet to either make a bad record or repeat herself, to call her latest, Let England Shake, one of her strongest efforts to date is a bold statement, but it's true--this a brilliant record by an artist impervious to aging.
  14. Feb 15, 2011
    90
    Let England Shake borrows precepts from all over the singer's canon, specifically extrapolating the piano-based concepts of White Chalk into louder, fuller renderings.
  15. Feb 15, 2011
    90
    Let England Shake, Harvey's first solo album since 2007's White Chalk, is a brutal, often difficult and always unflinching look at what terrible things happen to people when nations fight each other.
  16. Feb 15, 2011
    90
    this time, she has found a middle ground therein, an appropriately murky backdrop as she channels another of her early inspirations: Bob Dylan. Like vintage Bob, Shake pores over history's indignities with a fine-toothed comb.
  17. Feb 14, 2011
    90
    God bless unique, unfathomable, great Queen Polly.
  18. Feb 14, 2011
    90
    Sung with warmth, these tracks offer a welcome antidote to her more familiar performance mode--spectacular austerity. They're as bloody and forceful as the battles Harvey references.
  19. Feb 10, 2011
    90
    It is a record marked by a weary wonder at the departure of something huge from the world – Victorian invention and enterprise, the ages of steam and discovery, the impossible cruelty of empire, all fading into a half-remembered dream.
  20. Feb 15, 2011
    88
    On Let England Shake, Harvey is not often upfront or forceful; her lyrics, though, are as disturbing as ever.
  21. Feb 24, 2011
    85
    Where the album really excels is in how it marries slightly absurd melodies to its lyrics to create a portrait of surreality and madness, as was so often rendered by those same Modernist poets Harvey cites as an influence.
  22. Feb 15, 2011
    85
    Harvey's singing delivers the material by juggling unwieldy emotions with care and empathy. And she makes the experience sound natural -- like a true no-brainer.
  23. Creating a suite of well-turned if unnecessarily understated antiwar songs, she's a gifted, strong-willed minor artist bent on shaking England in particular.
  24. Mar 4, 2011
    82
    While the sound is looser with strummed acoustic guitar, sax, autoharp and brushed drums, it contrasts sharply with Harvey's thematic adherence to war, guns, bloodshed and bleak landscapes.
  25. Apr 6, 2011
    80
    Of all her many guises [...] this may be her most powerful. [Feb. 2011, p. 94]
  26. Feb 25, 2011
    80
    If there's an underlying motif that guides Let England Shake, it's one of being utterly enraged with the seemingly endless cycle of war and violence, while simultaneously being captivated by the mythology of one's home nation.
  27. Feb 16, 2011
    80
    This is war poetry at its finest and will keep you coming back for many repeat listens. Its influence on any listener, impressionable or otherwise, should be a positive one.
  28. 80
    On what may be her best album, Polly Harvey offers a portrait of her homeland as a country built on bloodshed and battle, not so much a police state as a nation in thrall to military endeavour, however impotent and wasteful that has become.
  29. Feb 15, 2011
    80
    Let England Shake is the sound of someone as maddened as they are enthralled, aglow with anger and passion.
  30. Feb 15, 2011
    80
    As conceptually and contextually bold as Let England Shake is, it features some of Harvey's softest-sounding music.
  31. It's an album about what war does to the aggressor, as much as what it does to the vanquished victim.
  32. Feb 14, 2011
    80
    Authoritatively potent, bitterly bleak and beautiful, this record is an unexpected but essential punch in the face.
  33. Mar 23, 2011
    78
    PJ Harvey always explodes possibility when she shreds convention and tradition. Thankfully, she does just that on this Anglo-centric head-trip.
  34. Feb 18, 2011
    70
    While albums like Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea and To Bring You My Love found her looking inward--Let England Shake sees her peeking beyond her inner observations into the complicated web of English politics.
  35. Feb 15, 2011
    70
    Let England Shake is a rewarding and staunchly uncompromising piece of art from a master songwriter who remains as relevant as ever. If it all feels a bit foreign or new, it's because Harvey, as always, refuses to repeat herself.
  36. Feb 15, 2011
    70
    Ms. Harvey's vocals rise out of a kind of bleary skiffle, with the strumming of Autoharp or distorted electric guitar above rudimentary drumbeats.
  37. Mar 3, 2011
    67
    For all its dissent, Let England Shake is a fairly muted album, yet it demonstrates where PJ Harvey is now: more chronicler than provocateur.
  38. Feb 15, 2011
    63
    Harvey doesn't preach, she merely describes, the lilting voice and the light melodies creating a surreal backdrop for mayhem.
  39. Apr 28, 2011
    60
    It feels crudely stitched together. [Mar 2011, p.49]
  40. Feb 15, 2011
    60
    Perhaps it's no surprise that eighth album Let England Shake is the first for which Harvey does not appear on the sleeve.
  41. Feb 15, 2011
    60
    If she wanted to move or enlighten, Let England Shake falls short.
  42. Feb 15, 2011
    60
    Always an underrated guitarist, Harvey makes use of the jaunty rhythms of British folk music, but takes no comfort in the past. And you don't have to care about English history--or England in general--to fall under Harvey's spell.
User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 155 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 44
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 44
  3. Negative: 2 out of 44
  1. Mar 1, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. A breathtaking beauty both in lyrics and music. Simplicity rules. Pete Doherty and Beck might have wished to clean her shoes. Me too. Even my dog seems to loose his regular interest in fresh veal... Jokes aside, just try it, will not get dissapointed. Full Review »
  2. Feb 19, 2011
    3
    Her vocals on this album are so high to the point of shrill. As much time as you can tell went into Let England Shake it seems like so much production and nonsense. I just can't bring myself to put it back on the stereo. Full Review »
  3. Feb 19, 2011
    10
    This may sound like an overstatement, but this album is one of those that restore your faith in human creativitiy. What an amazingly solid, beautiful, happy, and sad album. Reminds us that we're all in the human condition. Sounds like nothing I've ever heard. This album simply FEELS important. Full Review »