User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 154 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 7 out of 154

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  1. Mar 1, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand 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. Expand
  2. 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.
  3. May 13, 2011
    9
    This is the best album I have heard in 2011, and I don't know that I will hear one to top this the rest of the year. Thematically Harvey does a fantastic job in her lyrics, and the music that supports it is just as haunting. This is an album that improves with each listen. I also like how she brought English folk back in a modern way. A very good record!
  4. Mar 9, 2011
    9
    There's no sense of pride in Harvey's words and music; just a chilling reminder that judgement by spilling blood is never the answer. Her raw honesty for the beloved homeland is passionate beyond bounds and for that reason extremely effective in delivering her greatest recording. http://hackskeptic.com
  5. Feb 16, 2011
    10
    As Slavoj Zizek describes in a recent work ("Living in the End Times") that due to the "Unbehagen in der Kultur, (the discontent/unease in culture) we are experiencing under liberal capitalism [...] the key question now is: who will articulate this discontent?" PJ Harvey, no more than Arcade Fire or Kanye West, can control the direction of this expression. Kanye, a repulsive "Monster," lays bare the absurdities of late capitalism. His subconscious speaks as many contradictions about capitalist society are unveiled. He represents the ultimate representation of the loathsome legacy of capitalism that has reached its most banal cultural forms of self-indulgence, self-hate, violence, alienation and discontent. Following capitalism's trajectory from primitive (unaided by technology) slavery/genocide/racism to the present day forms of ultra-effective and commonplace genocide/ecocide/resource wars/racism it's powerful to have signifiers such as Kanye to demonstrate our absurd time. Arcade Fire's self-conscious hypocrisy and helplessness in their most recent album, The Suburbs, torments us as we all experience our own dishonesty and conflicted consciences as first-worlders guilty of benefiting from a system that favors our lives and lifestyles over the vast majority of the world. This powerful album is a continuation of the themes brought popularly to our thinking by Green Day (Jesus of Suburbia). The band provides its listeners with website links on it's interactive album (only available for purchase on their website) that supposedly help us understand ideas being entertained and debated by the band while crafting this album. The extreme political incoherence and randomness of these supposed influences highlights the band's own confusion in understanding the contradictions of the world in which we live. And the confused/conflicted lyrics in tracks like "City With No Children" highlight their head-scratching incoherence. In sum, their critique is very confused about how to deal with place (the central theme of the album), alienation, modern man and children, police, abstract labor, etc. And now, PJ Harvey continues the haunting and painful contradictions Radiohead laid at our feet with Kid A and Amnesiac. Perhaps the two most anti-capitalist albums ever made. The title track, "Let England Shake," kicks us off with the discordant and flat sounds of an autoharp reminding many listeners (according to many reviews and comments) of the feel of Kid A and Amnesiac. Listening to "On Battleship Hill," I feel as though I'm watching fools and apologists rearrange deck furniture on the Titanic. Despite its soft melody and sweet guitar rhythms, I see the frantic scurrying of people panicked against the slowly sinking ship...the tension of these two opposing paces has a nice transcendent feel for a listener who can rise above and observe our absurd behavior. This album, like any piece of art, poetry, film or music today, can and should be read in the context of the world in which we are living (i.e politically). Even those albums not understood as explicitly political (such as Let England Shake), cannot but be a political statement...and that is because we are indeed living in the end times. For Taylor Swift, Lady GaGa and Co. to distract/attack us with self-indulgent banality and cliche is a necessarily political act (regardless of intent), and should therefore be contextualized as such. "It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Expand
  6. Jun 30, 2011
    10
    It's rare that one can be so artfully political while avoiding both pretense and immaturity. She pulls it off incredibly well... like when your lover is the one you hate the most.

    There's such range to it. At some points it's like that part of a movie where the sound effects go silent while the score plays illustriously... at others, it's as though she's pissing on the constitution.

    My
    favourite? When she not only pulls off but SLAM DUNKS the line "What if I take my problem to the United Nations."

    Walking away from a burning building...
    Expand
  7. Aug 9, 2011
    9
    So far the best PJ album. 'On Battleship Hill' comes up as her finest track and the vocals are absolutely haunting. It's been a while since I really felt like buying an album again.
  8. Jan 12, 2012
    9
    Claimed for most of the critics as the best album of the last year, Polly Jean's "Let England Shake" makes a concept album about war, even though it embraces a mix of themes, and it doesn't fails in the whole message it should pass. If in those years she never made up something as good as "Stories from the city (..)", she came real close this time.
  9. Feb 17, 2011
    10
    I can't believe I'm about to shower praise on the inimitable queen Polly like some gushing schoolboy ONCE AGAIN! But what else is there to say? She's done it again, and with gusto. Like her musical kin (at least I'll always pair the two) Nick Cave, PJ delivers beyond expected, like the consummate artist she is. But now PJ can add something that Cave could never claim (not to my knowledge), and that his political songwriter. Political songwriting is a marred **** field, and most "introverted" songwriters would be well advised to stay away, but that doesn't scare Harvey. She gracefully avoids all the pitfalls like she's done nothing else her entire life. Expand
  10. May 4, 2011
    10
    Truly, and absolutely magnificent! I'll be honest...Prior to "Let England Shake," I never listened to PJ Harvey. (thank you NPR for 'first listen') I feel sorta phony and maybe I wouldn't have liked "Let England Shake," as much, if I gave any attention to her previous albums, but this is one of the year's best.
  11. Mar 21, 2011
    10
    Outside of a couple of catchy songs on the radio, I hadn't given PJ much thought. This album, though, is amazingly successful as a war album with vivid imagery and Smiths-esque hooks. Outside of that, it is very difficult to pigeonhole this music into a specific music genre. At times, she sounds like Bjork or the girl from Portishead, but the music is better. Very creative and melodic, if not hypnotic. Best album I've heard yet in 2011. Expand
  12. TAE
    Feb 20, 2011
    10
    well this album is so different from anything else she's done it's hard to compare to anything else in her discography but the sound of the album is so unique and at 41 who'd ever think she'd be in peak form so late into her career? This album really does sound like it was made by an actual band and not just Polly solo. So that actual band should also get some credit for making such a quirky classic. With all the British females dominating the music industry it's about time the queen (with all due respect to Kate Bush) shows the amateurs how it's done. Congrats on your incredible rise back to the top Polly. I hope this is your best selling record ever. I'll never doubt her again. Expand
  13. Feb 17, 2011
    9
    A stunning album. In the past, I've only considered myself a moderate fan but I love, love, love this album. Somehow, she has managed to craft a work which is fiercely intelligent - brimming with perceptive social commentary - yet one which never adopts a preachy or overly didactic tone. And despite its lyrical and conceptual depth - it is the music which carries the listener. She consistently and seamlessly interweaves gorgeous turns in melody - delighting as she surprises, disturbs and grabs hold of her audience. Here is a woman who is in full possession of her impressive talents - she is fully and confidently engaged with her artistic vision but never for a moment pandering to the expectations of critics or even fans. Ms. Harvey will not be to everyone's liking - she challenges and stretches her audience. But I urge you to give this one a try - patient listening will be well worth your time. Expand
  14. Oct 15, 2011
    10
    PJ Harvey's "Let England Shake" is one of best albums of 2011, and may just be the best of her entire career. She ignites the punk formula with something genuine and raw, which is something rare concerning that particular genre and mood in the 21st century. Few rock artists can compete with what she's doing here. Terrific.
  15. Mar 2, 2011
    10
    im sorry im a fan of THAT record, not of miss Harvey, which by the way i hated most of her afore creations. So just like i said, i am truly sorry, im a fan of THAT record and have to leave a 10 mark behind me... :)
  16. Feb 17, 2011
    10
    This album should be talked about all year!! This album should inspire all musicians to write/be inspired by lyrics that force you to listen to them along with the music, and the voice singing them. Poetry yes, but what I love is the fact that PJ writes about England's march into the ground with passion, and that there is no mention of hope or prayer yet the album is recorded in an old church. Also, her lyrics frame many scenes of battle and death and the only time the word 'blood' is sung, is in the last line of the last song. Haunting and dark, yet soothing and peaceful use of her voice and choice of weapons (instruments). PJ should definitely incorporate the saxophone more in the future, but, again, I am sure what she plays and what she sings will surprise again. Expand
  17. Feb 15, 2011
    10
    A truly exceptional and visionary work that combines unique storytelling with a distinctly English folk sound. Harvey here is really shining, bringing new light to ground that has been tread so often, and yet it feels like she owns this. Harvey has made the greatest contemporary war album sinceâ
  18. Feb 15, 2011
    10
    What can I say. I'm biased about my favourites, just like the rest of us. You wont know if you don't listen. Fantastic use of the past and present, looking for a better future. Check it out.
  19. Feb 15, 2011
    10
    There's nobody in music like PJ Harvey, and the new record is nothing short of sensational. She can claim the rights to the best war album ever. There's no contest.
  20. s3s
    Feb 16, 2011
    9
    I was a bit dissapointed with White Chalk but this is brrrrrrrrrrilliant, best album since stories from the city. The words that maketh murder and england(sounds bit like radiohead at points) standout.
  21. Feb 19, 2011
    10
    It's not just solid. It's great. It's incredible. I have never heard anything like let england shake. I love pj harvey, i know she's great, but I've never expected this from her. Thank you, polly jean.
  22. Mar 3, 2011
    9
    A change of pace for Ms. Harvey. Poetic, haunting lyrics as always, but coming less from sexualized angst as her early work did. Here she addresses the trauma suffered by England after WWI, however you get the sense this is larger than just that war. Regardless of the dark vision, these songs are catchy and enjoyable. This work will stand as one of her best. I for one, am thankful such a great artist continues to make music for us. Expand
  23. Feb 22, 2011
    10
    She proves it again and again that you can be creative and relevant without the need of starting all over again, from scratch and without necessarily breaking all musical conventions, but by just doing what you do the best and adding on top of it a little by little as you go along. No nonsense, indeed, with PJ Harvey. Radiohead, take a note!
  24. Mar 1, 2011
    10
    Wow: Just about every song on this album is great...and I didn't think I ever liked PJ before: Now I love her and I'm going to scramble for tickets and grab all of her old albums! Not sure how to better put it than that.
  25. Mar 3, 2011
    9
    Maybe not a perfect 10, but so damn close. I was introduced to PJ mainly though her collaborations with Nick Cave. But now that I have all of her albums (except the Parrish ones), this may well be my favorite or nearly so. Probably the most consitent album since Dry.
  26. Mar 15, 2011
    10
    It's a ten. If you like PJ Harvey it's a ten. The people complaining about it being different or her voice being shrill have not really listened to the whole record enough to hear what she is doing. She uses her voice to convey something other than a catchy melody or a hook and each song sounds exactly as it should. She's not going to keep making Dry over and over again. Get over it! By the way, there are plenty of catchy hooks too. She makes it look easy, but this will be a classic, and that's no easy feat. No doubt in my mind at all. Well done PJ, you're awesome. Expand
  27. Mar 24, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This is probably her most experimental work, which it also makes it one of her best. It's so mature the way she unrolls her music and writing progress, and I truly believe it's possibly the top of her career (artistically), where she proves herself to be affective to a wider range of people, from young adults to old ones, since the topic here it's all about war and how it affected, sentimentally speaking, people who went into battleship at those times. Look, she based her work in more softened music, a kind of folk one, so it's practically a departure from her previous efforts, especially when you talk about and focus on albums such as â Expand
  28. Apr 4, 2011
    10
    A great Folk album nowadays... it's actually pretty hard to find, but when you look on PJ Harvey, it's just guaranteed. This album's soul and passion simply rocks, musical and lyrical perfection
  29. May 7, 2011
    10
    In my opinion, this is the best album of 2011 so far. I know it's still early, but this album is really worth talking about. This sad and moving concept album about war really makes you think twice about our world and the soldiers that are fighting overseas. This is one of the best war related albums since Pink Floyd's "The Wall" (1979) and "The Final Cut" (1983). The songs that I would recommend are "Let England Shake", "The Glorious Land", "The Words That Maketh Murder", "On Battleship Hill", and "England". Worth buying for sure! Expand
  30. Dec 12, 2011
    10
    When I started listening to this album I wasnâ
  31. Jan 12, 2012
    10
    Even when this album came out in early 2011 it was obvious that it would be the album of the year. Best artistic and political statement put in music in 2011. Rave as much as you want about this album and your words will never be a hyperbole. This is that good. Thank you, Ms.Harvey.
  32. Mar 20, 2012
    10
    This is easily the best album of 2011, and the best war album in the history of music. There is not a wasted moment on this album and every song is its own individual masterpiece. The album is inspired by WWII and it captures all its emotions. It is simply amazing, and if all you can focus on is her vocals, then maybe music isn't for you. A+
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. 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.
  2. Apr 28, 2011
    60
    It feels crudely stitched together. [Mar 2011, p.49]
  3. Apr 6, 2011
    80
    Of all her many guises [...] this may be her most powerful. [Feb. 2011, p. 94]