Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums
In cock-rockier hands, using the Great War to consider its contemporary counterparts and examine a bemused homeland could result in a ham-fisted concept album (see: the 1970s). Instead, PJ Harvey's Mercury Prize-winning Let England Shake fuses heady themes and dynamic compositions to create an elegant, erudite, and wholly thrilling artistic achievement. With economical, evocative lyrics, Harvey miraculously manages subtlety on an album populated with dying boys calling for their mothers ("The Colour of the Earth"), "gunners waiting in corpses," ("All and Everyone"), and soldiers falling "like lumps of meat" ("The Words that Maketh Murder"). Taking more inspiration from TS Eliot than Robert Graves ― though indebted to both ― her poetic scope continues to broaden. Correspondingly, this is as musically opaque as the songwriter has ever been. Recorded in a church, the sound is airy when it needs to be and, at turns, grating and appropriately lofty. Throughout, the pristine production judiciously anchors experimentation and brings together flights of fancy. Wisely using distorted guitars ("In the Dark Places"), unsettling orchestration ("England"), and a dash of reggae ("Written on the Forehead"), Harvey ingeniously augments and elevates thematic concerns. Conversely, "The Glorious Land" ― with its can't-resist bugle ― and the blood-soaked, piano-driven "Hanging in the Wire" are more obvious but no less effective. Filtering an examination of her home through World War I battlefields, Let England Shake may not be as overtly personal as some of Harvey's past work, but it's no less intimate (see "England). Bonus: it's way catchier than All Quiet on the Western Front.
FeaturesSep 01, 2015
The LibertinesBoys in the Band
The Libertines burst onto the pages of the UK music press in the early '00s, setting the rock world ablaze with a revitalized, rambunctious ...
NewsAug 26, 2015
Melvins to Release Long-Lost Collaboration with Mike Kunka via Sub Pop
After 17 years, the Melvins will finally release an album they started in 1998 with Mike Kunka, bassist of noise rock duo godheadSilo. "W...
FeaturesAug 26, 2015
Beach HouseAll Natural
When Beach House announced their fifth album, Depression Cherry, back in May, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand described it — in their...
NewsAug 25, 2015
Holy Fuck Share Info on New Album and the Reasons for the Wait
It's been five long years since Canadian electronic experimenters Holy Fuck released a new album. After a seemingly endless bout of non-stop...
FeaturesAug 24, 2015
Steam Whistle Unsigned presentsExclaim!'s Camp Wavelength Preview
Summer is almost done, but that doesn't mean all the fun music festivals are over just yet. The inaugural edition of Camp Wavelength —...
FeaturesAug 21, 2015
Fred PennerAll My Children
It's been a good while since Fred Penner was on television, but these days, he's having a bit of a moment. He plays festivals regularly; he'...
FeaturesAug 20, 2015
The Exclaim! QuestionnaireCarly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen could have been a one-hit wonder. When the British Columbian singer/songwriter released a single titled "Call Me Maybe" ...
FeaturesAug 19, 2015
Coeur de pirateMap of the Heart
"All my fears and anxieties and all that crap that humans go through — I didn't face them because I was so busy putting my energy into...