FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – Lungs (Island)

The two albums that I have most been looking forward to have both arrived in the same week. I have been eagerly awaiting this one since I first heard their ‘Kiss With A Fist’ and ‘Dog Days Are Over’ singles, and realised what a great voice Florence possesses. I have heard bits and pieces since, and they all pointed to this being a great debut album. Both the singles are included, for those people who missed them first time round, and they sound as great as they did way back, while the newer songs are generally of the same high standard. The album kicks off in familiar style with ‘Dog Days Are Over’, and if you haven’t already heard Florence Welch then this is when you realise what a great voice she has. Alternating between controlled power and breathy vulnerability, it makes the title of this record seem most apt. Current single ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ is next, and although I was not too keen when I saw them perform it live on Jonathan Ross, but the addition of a massive drum sound and lower register vocals on the recorded version are a vast improvement. ‘I’m Not Calling You A Liar’ is a slower tune, and the addition of harp and orchestra give it a lush feel which the melody never seems to take advantage of. ‘Howl’ sees the return of the big drum sound for another powerful performance, and this is followed by the classic ‘Kiss With A Fist’. By far the most out and out indie song on the record, its rough-edged White Stripes guitar still sounds great, and more of this would have improved the album no end. That’s not to say that the other songs on here are below par, but ‘Kiss With A Fist’ is so far above them that they can’t help but pale in comparison. ‘Girl With One Eye’ is a stripped-back homage to P J Harvey, both in musical style and lyrical content, and when ‘Between Two Lungs’ finally gets going it is quite a commercial song. ‘My Boy Builds Coffins’ is as odd as its title, with a lightweight lyric over a indie-lite backing, but ‘Hurricane Drunk’ is where Florence redeems herself. Although stylistically a polar opposite to ‘Kiss With A Fist’ this is easily as good, and its Portishead beats and massed vocal harmonies give it an epic feel. ‘Blinding’ brings us down a notch, with a drum-heavy rocker, and the album closes with a bit of an oddity – a cover of Candi Staton’s ‘You Got The Love’. I can think of a few disco songs that Florence could have tackled successfully, but this wouldn’t have been one of them, and for the first time on the record her voice sounds weak on the verses. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t want to condemn the whole album just for this aberration, as on the whole it is a very good collection of songs. Perhaps not as guitar-heavy as I would have liked, but her voice certainly doesn’t disappoint, and so I have to say that it was well worth the wait.
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Dog Days Are Over
Kiss With A Fist
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