I became a fan of PJ Harvey way back in 1995 when I heard her song “Down by the Water” played on the radio, a song that mesmerized my thirteen-year-old mind with its weird lyrics and slightly dissonant sound. The videos off the album To Bring You My Love, which I caught late at night on MTV’s Alternative Nation, only furthered my fascination; her bright red lipstick and heavy eye makeup lent an odd theatricality to the videos that was unsettling and so very cool.
I’ve followed PJ Harvey through many albums in the subsequent years, and she never fails to captivate my attention. Each album seems like a departure from the last, whether it’s due to the introduction of a new instrument (such as the piano on 2007’s otherworldly White Chalk), a change in her vocal styling, or the subject matter of the songs. Her ability to stave off boredom in her album-making has made her a musician who always manages to entertain me, and her latest album, Let England Shake, is no exception. The subject matter—the destruction and devastation caused by war—is darker (somehow) than her other albums, and the use of the auto harp and saxophone lend a distinctive sound to the songs. It’s a dark album, but it’s catchy and will stay with you for days.
Let England Shake