Florence + The Machine

Island Records, 2009

REVIEW BY: Phil Jones


I have to say that I, by and large, prefer female artists that are as “mad as a bag of frogs.” Kate Bush, Patti Smith, and Tori Amos are perfect examples of this, and I am happy to welcome Florence Welch to that group.

Lungs is a fantastic debut album which has gained recognition in the UK with nominations for BRIT, NME, and Mercury awards. The tracks were influenced by the temporary break of Florence from her boyfriend; Florence And The Machine is really a solo artist supported by session musicians.

The disc kicks off with the “Dog Days Are Over,” which starts gently with some plucked strings and builds up to a thumping beat that ebbs and flows throughout the song – not to mention bonkers lyrics: “The dog days are over; the dog days are gone / Can you hear the horses because here they come.” However, the driving force is Florence’s vocals (which give hints of Kate Bush), who has the ability to sing softly and suddenly press the turbo charger to create what feels like a cathedral of sound.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The opener is followed up by “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up),” which would be equally at home in a student bedsit or played full bore in any dance club. “I’m Not calling You A Liar” and “Kiss With A Fist” hint at a girl who you shouldn’t mess with: “You hit me once, I hit you back / You give me a kick, I give you a slap / You smashed a plate, over my head, then I set fire to our bed.”

This is capped by the vampy “Girl With One Eye,” which has a really bluesy feel to it and could have been recorded in any era since the ’50s; disturbingly, it finishes with the line “I’ll cut your little heart out ‘cause you made me cry.”

Musically, the album doesn’t just stay in one spot and is hard to nail down. However, this leads to one of my favorites, “My Boy Builds Coffins,” which is just a great pop song. “Cosmic Love” does sound like it might be being beamed back to earth from outer space and “Drumming Song” builds from its initial rhythm into what is a fully blown layered track. There is virtually no filler on this disc.

The final cut is a cover version of Candi Staton’s 1991 club anthem “You Got The Love,” which captures the originals feel of being a kind of benediction over a mass dance floor of clubbers while still stamping her personality all over it. This has since been rereleased in conjunction with UK Grime King Dizzee Rascal after a show-stopping performance at the BRITS as “You Got The Dirtee Love.”

This is a rare first album that feels like it has been created by a complete, mature artist rather than one in the development stage. Florence has set a high initial benchmark, and I can’t wait for the next episode.

Rating: A

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