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Harry Harland (PJ Harvey – Let England Shake)

Not exactly quick on the uptake with this one, given that it came out over a year ago and won the 2011 Mercury Music Prize in September, but I think that just goes to show the way in which this album has won me over.

To fill in a little on my history with Ms Harvey, I have never really been taken by any of her previous material, while at Rock Werchter last summer, I was suitably offended by the squarky nature of her performance to leave the festival site and go for a drink elsewhere. This is a little unjust, as it was the final day of a four day festival and I wanted to die, but it’s fair to say that she didn’t impress me.

It was therefore with considerable scepticism that I finally put her latest album Let England Shake on my iPod and gave it a listen. The results are interesting to say the least.

As traditionally befits a Mercury Prize winning album, this is not your every day collection of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-chorus songs (the standard format for pretty much any crap band). The feel of the album is halfway between a concept album about human conflict and (dare I say it?) a stage musical. The songs all have a driving, off-beat rhythm that courses through them, while Harvey’s mournful and almost pained voice is beautifully played off against that of long-time collaborator and multi-instrumentalist John Parish’s.

It’s an almost entirely unique concept and one that works surprisingly well, not least on tracks like This Glorious Land and The Words That Maketh Murder. This might take a while to love, but give it a chance and maybe, like me, you will be pleasantly surprised.

 

Edward Lines (The Kills – The Last Goodbye)

From last year’s Blood Pressures album, The Last Goodbye is a slow, practically funereal number. Mosshart’s powerful voice seems to break with sadness at times as she deals with heartbreak. The Kills answer to Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

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