PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
“The West’s asleep,” PJ Harvey declares on the first line of her new album, Let England Shake, before spending the next 40 minutes aiming to shame, frighten, and agitate it into action. When Polly Jean Harvey burst into the public consciousness in the early 90s, her gravelly voice, outsized personality, and often disturbing lyrics gave the alt-rock world a crucial shot of excitement. That early work is still among the most raw and real guitar music to emerge from the past few decades, so no surprise, it’s a version of PJ Harvey a lot of people still miss. But if you’ve paid attention to her in the years since, the one thing you can expect is that she won’t repeat herself. Read the full review on Pitchfork
Mogwai – Hardcore will never die, but you will.
Mogwai have hardly ever been as accessible as they are on Hardcore…. Only three of the 10 songs break the six-minute mark and when they do, you’ll hardly notice. The vocoded lyrics and steady click-beat of album highlight “Mexican Grand Prix”, for instance, are so enrapturing that the song glides on and on with ease. Track six, “Letters to the Metro”, sees Mogwai take a page from Godspeed’s well-worn book, painting about as movingly evocative a picture as could possibly be put together in just under five minutes. The dirge-like funeral march of “Too Raging to Cheers” again instantly calls to mind Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s signature movie score-like musical quality, but with more than enough of Mogwai’s guitar-oriented sound to avoid sounding too imitative. Read the full review on Consequence of Sound
Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
For every fan of Conor Oberst, there has been a moment when this precocious voice of troubled youth has come of age; to my mind, this really is the one. What sets The People’s Key apart from Oberst’s prodigious output over the past 15 years isn’t its lyrical density or conceptual assurance, but the taut, bright, propulsive vitality of its musicianship. This is practically a pop album – albeit a pop album about time, the universe, life as a hallucination and spiritual redemption. Read the full review on The Guardian