Uxbal, the character played by Javier Bardem in "Biutiful," says his pick-up line when he met his future wife was "You have the most beautiful nose in the world." And one of the odd things that happens watching the film (one of several) is that after a while you actually begin to see it.
Not the smoothest lead-in, perhaps, to an account of the odd sensations generated by a new record, PJ Harvey's "Let England Shake," but part of the oddness is the feeling of being seduced by something you're surprised to find you even like. Some people I know would be liklier candidates to embrace Harvey. From a glowing review in the Guardian: "Somehow, the recent news that Harvey had frequently received career advice from the late Captain Beefheart didn't come as that much of a surprise." (UPDATE: Going back to the beginning and slowly working my forward I'm realizing just how wrong I was. "Patti Smith without the poetic BS and the self-indulgence," I said, off the top of my head. Not fair because it makes her sound derivative, and she's anything but. Still, a decent starting point.)
The songs on "Let England Shake" are all in some fashion about the British experience of World War I. Trench warfare and body parts hanging in trees. The lyrics seem to contain snippets of soldiers' letters home, possibly samples of Siegfried Sassoon. English folk melodies and folk instruments; Druidic drumbeats; tunes that would not be out of place on "The Thistle and the Shamrock." Echoing the Olde Weird England explorations of Alan Moore, Iain Sinclair and Peter Greenaway. Harvey's drawings related to the project -- the ones she displays during this recent TV interview, as well the seething image she created for the album cover -- recall Eddie Campbell's artwork for Moore's grisly graphic novel "From Hell."
Of course, these textual observations will be irrelevant if you don't like the music. I find the album holds up way better than most to repeated playing, but YMMV.