Ten years after her Barclaycard Mercury Prize win for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, pioneering U.K. songstress PJ Harvey has received the recognition for a second time.
Let England Shake continues where PJ Harvey's White Chalk let off– not in sound but in aesthetic endeavor. It’s a daring step forward for Harvey. Dissenters may cite alienation as their key grievance for this new era in Harvey’s career, wishing for a return to the lower register singing and gripping guitar playing that characterized much of her 90’s work. In many ways, they’re not wrong to feel frustrated at Harvey’s new sound; however, reinvention is central to her artistic process, and to deny expansion is limiting and hampers potentially new avenues for Harvey’s self expression.
It’d be easy to file Let England Shake as a political missive—an accessible but dense album of musings about the state of our world through the lens of Harvey’s home country England. Yet, PJ Harvey’s continual (and in many ways insatiable) desire to reinvent both her persona and music make classifications exceedingly difficult. She does not seek to push the limits of her catalog but wholly redefine it, experimenting with vocal techniques, varied instrumentation or poetic structures that both destabilize her oeuvre while creating new spaces in which to exist.
The lineup for this year’s Coachella dropped early this morning and it’s no joke. Goldenvoice put together a well-rounded bill that starts with headliners Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, The Strokes and Kanye West and includes HT faves The Felice Brothers, Tame Impala and Trampled By Turtles.
Here’s a look at the lineup in poster form…
Coachella 2011 takes place at Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA on April 15 – 17. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 AM PST.
READ ON for an A to Z (or ! to Z) rundown of the bill…
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that White Chalk is another interesting slice of Harvey that is calmer but just as pleasing beginning with “The Devil” and continuing on with “Dear Darkness.” Perhaps the album brings to mind her “Dance Hall At Louse Point” period most clearly during the carnival-tinged “Grow Grow Grow” that is quirky, unsettling and yet strong. Throughout it all, Harvey plays the light, airy vocals to a tee, especially on the haunting, retro-laced title track.
PJ Harvey is a powerful performer and an interesting artist. If you can get past the generic music video filler, there are some truly rare gems worth the look.