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.
FeaturesApr 24, 2015
JD McPherson"Let the Good Times Roll" on Exclaim! TV
After being fired from his job as a high school teacher in Oklahoma, JD McPherson decided to ditch the books and follow his dream of rock 'n...
NewsApr 23, 2015
Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Within a collective dispatch, Godspeed You! Black Emperor once made mention of a possible band mandate: "no singer, no leader, no interviews...
FeaturesApr 22, 2015
METZCome On, Feel the Noise
If you were to examine METZ on an atomic level, they would be all electron — excitable and agitated, yet very much in control. The Tor...
NewsApr 21, 2015
Tei Shi Discusses Her New EP and the Language of Music
Valerie Teicher has lived a very nomadic life. The Argentinian-born artist, who goes by the moniker Tei Shi, has moved around a lot, from Va...