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Let England Shake Image
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 193 Ratings

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  • Summary: Polly Jean Harvey takes a political approach on her latest album, as a singer-songwriter speaking on the casualties of war, the cruelty of life and the condition of being human.
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Top Track

Let England Shake
The West's asleep. Let England shake, weighted down with silent dead. I fear our blood won't rise again. England's dancing days are done. Another... See the rest of the song lyrics
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. 100
    Let England Shake is an album that only the Polly Harvey of today could have written.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Feb 14, 2011
    80
    Authoritatively potent, bitterly bleak and beautiful, this record is an unexpected but essential punch in the face.
  7. 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.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 43
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 43
  3. Negative: 2 out of 43
  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 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 listenThis 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
  3. 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 thewell 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
  4. 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 inAs 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
  5. 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 allMaybe 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. Expand
  6. 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 ISo 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. Expand

See all 43 User Reviews

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