Reviews Florence and the Machine Lungs

Florence and the Machine

Lungs

In a U.K. pop scene increasingly dominated by uncertain female electro-pop princesses or paltry imitations of Rihanna or Beyonce, it’s refreshing and exciting to see the dominance of a genuinely interesting and invigorating talent. Twenty-three year old Florence Welch and her four accomplices - The Machine - present us a gift wrapped collection of thirteen buoyant, ethereal and enormous songs.

Production is large and swelling, with harps, keys, strings and choirs liberally applied. Unlike Phil Spector and his overly ubiquitous wall of sound, however, these arrangements never feel Pro Tooled into place, instead situating themselves succinctly around Welch’s absolutely awe-inspiring vocals. Opener "Dog Days are Over" gives us a sample from the veritable smorgasbord that Lungs offers up: "El Condor Pasa"-era Simon & Garfunkel strings, ghostly choirs, darkly colored lyrics and those throaty, shouty, angelic lead vocals. Followed straight up by single "Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)," we’re drawn in completely, with a chorus that will float innocently around your eardrums for weeks.

"Kiss With a Fist" is a White Stripes song, offering a lyrical tale of domestic violence told controversially: “A kick in the teeth is good for some / a kiss with a fist is better than none.” Derivative drum/guitar combos aside, this upbeat blues rock tune helps keep the album varied, and avoids stepping into generic TV advert muzak by including an over-driven guitar solo that could be a lo-fi garage punk band, spluttering through notes like a buzzsaw.

Keeping things interesting, the next track is the wonderfully creepy "Girl With One Eye," featuring a fantastic guitar sound accompanying the word ‘cut’ in “I took a knife and cut out her eye.” These little details keep the record edgy, before it gradually climaxes into a vocal-drenched funeral dirge wailfest.

"Cosmic Love" is another standout, harps ascending and descending throughout with a sense of space and scale that match the track’s name. The latter half of the record becomes more introspective and dreamy, until we close up with "Blinding" and, finally, a cover of Candi Staton’s “You’ve Got The Love,” which somehow works, although feels a little misplaced after the epic pop of the previous half hour.

What’s to dislike? Not every jaded hardcore fan will be able to bring themselves to listen to a red-haired British pop star penning sultry and genre-spanning baroque rock/pop, but for everyone else, there’s a lot to be gained. Give this the time it deserves and you’ll be rewarded.

9.0 / 10Matt
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