Regarding PJ Harvey

I always hated PJ Harvey’s music. So much, that it had a detrimental effect on disliking her person too, for reasons that even myself will never understand. I remember MTV playing her videos in the early ’90s, and I was feeling that it was the right time to have a break from TV-watching. I just didn’t get her, I guess.

Last month, PJ Harvey released her 8th full album, “Let England Shake“. And everything in my perception of her, and her music, changed almost overnight.

This album is current. Both musically, and lyrically. The melodies are amazingly catchy, and in some instances its epic-ness elevates me the same way opera does. And then there’s the gloomy, harsh, highly political lyrics, enough to get me back to the ground. An amazing contrast, that creates an eerie atmosphere that doesn’t let you stride away from. As some guy wrote on iTunes: “Sounds like Enya reading a Churchill biography, while being strangled by Patti Smith. But in a good way.” My rating? 9/10. Album of the year so far.

In light of this finding, I went to her back catalog to see what I was missing all these years. And I’m afraid to say that my opinion for her past music hasn’t changed much. As a more mature listener these days I do appreciate her music more (1st-2nd albums), but not to the point of wanting to buy any of that older material. I really feel that PJ Harvey reached her peak with this new album instead. An album with a cause, not random alternative rock tunes (as in the 3rd-6th albums), and not as in some cases, boring arrangements (7th album). I hope we will see more of this, all-new, PJ Harvey in her future work too.

Update: The whole album is amazing, but these are the best 3 songs, in order:
1. Bitter Branches
2. The Glorious Land
3. On Battleship Hill


Jim wrote on March 13th, 2011 at 9:36 PM PST:

For me this glorious land was wrecked by the bugle. It just seemed too much and intrusive.
If that were absent, I would rate the song highly for imagination and delivery.
I am however 57yrs old and so it may be a generational thing

Vast Majority wrote on March 16th, 2011 at 7:34 PM PST:

All I kept thinking of when I heard it was F-Troop.

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