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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

9.2

PJ Harvey
Let England Shake

England is hurting. Sure, the planet in general is rapidly going to shit, but England's struggle seems disproportionally bigger than the rest of the world. Anyone who's ever spent time in any big city there has seen the symptoms of a seemingly unsolvable problem. Overcrowded streets, surveillance cameras, violence, a general sense of unease. People are unhappy, nobody smiles. There is joy to be had, but only as a temporary diversion to the struggle to survive. Greyness and cynicism seeps out from the cracks in the pavement and gaps in the windows. A few million people making up a lost generation with nothing to aim for, nothing to fight for, nothing to care about anymore.

But there is another England that exists, and it is thriving. The happiest, smartest, funniest, most positive people in the world live in this England. They're the people who'll offer you a couch to sleep on having only met them hours before, or the stranger that manages to entirely restore your faith in humanity over a few quick pints of ale. Clued in to the inevitability of the onward rolling train that is the big city, they effortlessly balance the necessity of manipulating it to get what they need from it, but with an immunity to it's magnetic forces that attracts and decimates weaker souls.

PJ Harvey is one of these Englanders, and typifies the eternal optimism that can only come from the ability to see past the over policed, greedy, dirty place that England has become. Because hiding behind that facade, it just so happens, is the greatest country in the world. Harvey understands the preposterousness of this statement and tempers the songs on Let England Shake accordingly, accurately reflecting how hard it is to break through the barrier. But the overall sentiment is undeniable.

These are the songs of a woman, despite all she finds unbearable about her own country, that loves it unconditionally. Not so much in the way that a parent unconditionally loves their child, but instead in the way of someone who went out, saw the world, learnt how it worked, only to return years later to realise that their high school sweetheart was the one they were searching for all along. It's an imperfect, at times difficult relationship, but it's also the most honest and rewarding type that anybody can ever hope for.

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PJ Harvey

 

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Comments

Rav

I found this to be an interesting record lyrically, which I guess is what Mike is alluding to, but musically – similar to her last two albums – I found it to be pretty fucking boring.

1 decade ago

monachilada

I agree it's not her most interesting work musically but don't really feel like it's that bad either. Certainly the subject material, but it wouldn't be as interesting as a spoken word album for instance. Think it acts as a vehicle for the lyrics while being neither too boring or too distracting. Just two more cents I guess I didn't mention in the article.

1 decade ago

Jonny Yes Yes

my ancestry pride surely affects my lust of this record... that said, it's so brilliantly cohesive,.. a proper album album.. no real standout singles, no fluff,, it genuinely sounds like ol' pj sat down in her country manor and put this all together... really In The Zone..

i think also.. (and this probably goes without saying) but you need to experience the subject matter to actually "get" this record.. i understand the continual mentions of the True Beauty of England, because ive seen it with my own two eyes,,, and it's not that smog filled cunthole called London either,,

ps: this is just a brain dump of my thoughts on this...

psss: further reading; my silly review of peabody's last album, written on a train from edinburgh to london,,

1 decade ago

monachilada

Yeah, what Jonny said. Has to be experienced to understand properly I think.

1 decade ago

reeling

Album of the year so far. Stunning, evocative + powerful. Polly Jean makes everything OK.

1 decade ago

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