I’m expecting to be the low score at Metacritic…None of the reviews from today (me, Pitchfork, who knows who else) are up yet there, and we’ll see what they assign me, but I’d be surprised if it’s over 60. (Not that Dusted scores count as much as some of the other publications, in any case.) I pretty much hated the album the first time through and warmed to it only very slightly over repeated listens. Everyone else seems to love it. Pitchfork gave it an 8.8.
Sasha Frere-Jones had seemingly some of the same problems with Let England Shake as I did, though I break from him in liking White Chalk. He wrote a good piece, though it’s more of a career overview than an album review. I love his opening about squinting to see the artist you used to love. You can read his take here.
And finally my review, which concludes:
The juxtaposition of harsh imagery and bouncy tunes feels part of some larger statement, perhaps the complacency with which we tolerate war and cruelty. Still, as music, it just doesn’t work. It leads the listener into blind alleys, manipulates the emotions in odd and unsettling ways, and makes it impossible to get a grip on how you feel about any of these songs. If Harvey was aiming for a slightly nauseated ambivalence, then she should be congratulated. If she wanted to move or enlighten, Let England Shake falls short.
God, I really hate this song.