‘England’ shakes things up for PJ Harvey


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The enigmatic PJ Harvey has always found a way to keep things interesting. In 2004, she recorded one of the angriest breakup albums ever, “Uh Huh Her.” In 2007, “White Chalk” saw the always-evolving recluse playing piano for the first time to accompany bone-chilling harmonies about death and the afterlife.

Now Harvey’s back to cause a ruckus. “Let England Shake” has a decidedly revolutionary slant tinged with Beatles experimentalism and fearless songwriting.

The entire album incorporates multi-instrumentalism and a cohesive concept that means precisely what the title suggests.

“The Glorious Land” fuses chaotic battlefield horn samples with a laid-back ’80s groove. Harvey’s bewitching voice sounds like it’s chopped through a megaphone as she sings call-and-response style about the “glorious fruit of our land” and deformed children.

“Written on the Forehead,” the album’s lead single, represents the album’s climax. She croons: “Let it burn, let it burn” amid a dizzying percussive rhythm that might recall images of 1960s race riots and Woodstock. 

I like PJ Harvey’s choice to make a more political album. After nearly two decades, she’s not out-of-step with the times.

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