Florence + the Machine – How Big How Blue How Beautiful

There is no doubt that since their electric debut in 2009 Florence + the Machine has been one of the most universally hard working bands having achieved global domination with the release of follow-up ‘Ceremonials’. Appearing to retreat within herself following a large touring schedule, Florence Welch reappeared in early 2015 with the most raw and personal single thus far in the form of pounding, expectedly anthemic ‘What Kind of Man’. Explaining the turbulent part of her life that went on to inspire the new record and openly detailing the numerous breakdowns she suffered whilst recording with new producer Markus Dravs allowed us an intelligent guess that the fairytale and mythology synonymous with ‘Lungs’ have taken a back seat.

Opening track ‘Ship To Wreck’ is a superb example of the mixture of lyrical voice as Florence despairs within a white wine haze about the drunken debauchery of the previous night whilst transporting us to the middle of the oceans as we battle sharks atop H.M.S Welch. The bombastic ‘Queen of Peace’ sits awaiting its very own single release as multiples layers of bold percussion interweave with the all-consuming power of the vocal that first alerted people to the phenomena of this well tuned machine.

‘Various Storms & Saints’ displays restraint which is something severely lacking on the previous record, it will also allow Florence to captivate and dazzle with a simplistic performance on the upcoming tour and festival appearances. If one goodness came from the Coachella injury it is the notability the band has received for their strong musical abilities even when you strip the ethereal, spritely front woman from the equation. There is a reason ‘Third Eye’ has been dismissed from the seated gigs as Florence channels ‘Hounds of Love’ Kate Bush as she screams to ‘look up’ at ‘the original lifeline’ as this rousing piece of hymnal pop is assured to have global festival fields united as a fitting finale whilst she flies between stage and crowd.

The combination of ‘Delilah’ ‘Caught’ and ‘Long & Lost’ really cements the band’s reputation as one with a huge amount of staying power thanks to the honest approach to the songwriting and ability in creating variation whilst being able to place the tracks to an album within an instant. If you think of the likes of ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘You Make Loving Fun’ you are likely to be on the right track and a huge amount of credit is due for Dravs. Not one to leave things on a subdued note, previous producer Paul Epworth returns to aid in a soulful ditty entitled ‘Mother’ with momentous choruses and Jefferson Airplane style guitar riffs channeling the raw festival surroundings that helped to craft the band’s reputation.

Alt-pop done to its very finest with clear direction and vision from its creator is the formula that leaves the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Björk in such critical consideration and with this record Florence + the Machine further cement their longevity and demonstrate what can be achieved within the space of three albums with determination and drive.

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