Florence + The Machine

Island Records, 2009

REVIEW BY: Sarah Curristan


Along with the mass majority, my first encounter with Flo And The Machine was through their single “Kiss With A Fist,” released in June of last year. “Kiss With A Fist,” a tantalizing two-minute track that intimates the bare brass of Joan Jett, garnered some raised eyebrows, but obviously not enough to pilfer limelight from Katy Perry’s equally feisty and subtle as a slap debut “I Kissed A Girl.”

“Kiss With A Fist” is embedded somewhere in the stylings of Lily Allen and Ida Maria, which made it seem as though Florence And The Machine were destined to be just yet another playful tongue-in-cheek indie pop outfit to be squeezed into an already fairly populated clown car. It was right around about the time I heard “Cosmic Love,” another single mapped out for their as-yet-to-be-released debut Lungs, that I found myself eating my words. Pretty damn humbly.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Cosmic Love” is a fantastical song that seems like it would only be justified playing at max volume on top of a skyscraper. It makes the room around you suddenly seem claustrophobic, crawls under your skin, settles there, and makes you itch from the inside out.

The album itself stretches so far from the style of Flo’s debut single that it’s hard to conceive both “Kiss” and Lungs originated from the same source. The vocals mature from catty pop-punk into something heraldingly soulful. Barren musical arrangement is morphed into complex and stellar arrangements of keyboards, fluttered harps, guitar and drums. On the whole, it comes across like a series of seraphic lullabies that seem to fit perfectly to Florence Welch’s nymph-like stage performances.

The album’s opening track, “Dog Days Are Over,” managed to gather the band a bit of a following, something pretty much guaranteed once featured in a musical geyser like E4’s drama Skins. The track proves the perfect introduction to Lungs by merging a euphoric, almost gospel sound with melancholic lyrics like “I never wanted anything from you / Except everything you had / And what was left after that too / Happiness it hurt like a bullet in the mind / Struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that.”

On first listen, some tracks on Lungs may be hard to distinguish from each other as Florence Welch almost relentlessly delivers one crescendo performance after another. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” and “Howl” both taste of ‘80s pop influence and may bring about initial thoughts of Kate Bush, but these are quickly silenced by the chase of the chorus.  For balance, songs like “My Boy Builds Coffins” and the “Girl With One Eye” help generate diversity ensuring that Lungs isn’t purely a showcase of vocal talent, although, in honesty, this characteristic does tend to dominate.

Closing off the album is “Blinding,” a track fringed with elements of The Cure combined with adrenaline drumbeats that offers you a mellow exit from the “dreaming state” constructed by Florence And The Machine.

Rating: A-

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© 2009 Sarah Curristan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.