Florence and The Machine New Album Review

Emily Hunt and Emily Hunt

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, is a woman inspired by extremes.

She pushes her neuroses until they become a sublime experience, presenting herself as equal parts angel and animal. While I have always been an avid listener of Welch, I have been a wary fan.

As a true innovator with a unique voice (lyrically and vocally), forging new ground has occasionally meant building her own creative redundancies.

Although referencing celestial bodies to describe heartbreak isn’t a cliche where most are concerned, Welch has used the image until it feels more like a reinforcement of her brand than her emotions. Admittedly, branding oneself can aid the immediate and long-term success of one’s career.

However, it does put a hinderance on what can be accomplished in the work itself; an especially steep loss when considering a talent as obviously rich as that which belongs to Florence Welch.

Although the transition from her initial release, “Lungs,” into her sophomore album “Ceremonials,” displayed a marked increase in technical prowess, there was an equally notable decrease in the intimacy of her performance.

“Lungs” was the desperate effort of a young woman to live off of the emotions which threatened to destroy her, while “Ceremonials” was fueled more heavily by ambition than personal catharsis.

This change was epitomized in the howling anthem “Spectrum;” a proclamation of passion that said more about what Welch could accomplish in production, than what she felt emotionally. Alongside songs with similar aims in the “Lungs” album, such as “Cosmic Love” and “The Dog Days Are Over,” it simply fell flat.

However, “Ceremonials” focus on developing skill did yield some rewards. Possibly her best writing to date is found in the song “What the Water Gave Me,” a potent retelling of Virginia Wolfe’s suicide through careful lyricism and (tellingly) understated production.

The song does not play into Welch’s typical tropes; instead offering bare emotion, and meaning which unfolds endlessly upon observation. While many of her songs feel sensational, this track feels classic.

After a three and a half year silence, Florence and the Machine will release their next album on June 1 to UK audiences.

It will be entitled “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” and if the pre-released songs and videos are any indication, it has been shaped by a minimalist sensibility.

Among these anticipatory releases, the track “What Kind of Man” and its accompanying video clip has piqued my interest

the most.

The clip is done in a naturalistic color palette; bringing the viewer’s focus onto the tactful use of light, and the texture of the bodies (sometimes nude) which move within it.

The lyrics are emotionally charged, but not overwhelmed with theatricality; and these words are carried along with a deliberate, steadily beating, rock production.

It seems that possibly, Florence Welch has learned you can say more, if you know when and where to say less.