Album review: PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

One of our national treasures proves her worth once more in this textured, sombre outing.

Opening with what could easily be a damning indictment of our present time - “England’s dancing days are gone” - Harvey’s eighth album takes no prisoners from the off.

A crossover of dark folk and dramatic but pared-down indie, the Mercury-winner is in fine poetic fettle.

Harvey balances its heavy focus on war, decay and brutality, with earthy textures and plaintive production; her vocals carry an ethereal echo through layers of brushed drums and acoustic guitar in On Battleship Hill - truly goosebump-inducing.

In England she ambiguously clings to a love of her homeland despite its “bitter” taste and “sadness”, where The Glorious Land’s spectral vocals paint an England “ploughed by tanks and feet marching”.

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A thrillingly ominous message in a poised, arresting performance.

4 stars

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