Best Albums of 2011: #2

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

You don't have to look very far to see that the modern day Western peace movements are partisan politics at best or nonexistent at worst. Sadly, it's beginning to feel like in the Western world the idea of being at perpetual war has become a part of our cultural psyche. Every once and a while, though, a piece of art, film, or music can move people in their serious and somber portrayals of war. In the past it's been films like Schindler's List, Apocalypse Now, or The Hurt Locker -- films that show the tragic effects of war for what they are rather than falling back on typical anti-war rhetoric. For me, PJ Harvey's Let England Shake was this 2011's case against violence and warfare.

In each of these daringly simple, but masterful songs, the singer-songwriting veteran takes a step back from personal dramas to create her magnum opus of sorts. From the opening titular track on, PJ Harvey had me hooked to her idiosyncratic vocal deliveries and sparse arrangements -- a stunning exercise in controlled creativity and an example of a musician and songwriter at the top of her game. More than anything else though, as the war in Afghanistan drags on and U.S. military bases continue to pop up all over the world, I can't help but turn to my own country that I love and wonder if we need our own PJ Harvey to finally wake up.

Read my full review here.

Best Tracks: "Let England Shake", "The Words That Maketh Murder"

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