In our Spring 2015 edition, our own Rikki Schneiderman clued us in on Florence + The Machine’s return after a year-long hiatus, and now they’re officially back! They rocked the stage at Coachella back in April, Governer’s Ball this month, and they’ll be on tour this fall.
The English band dropped their album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful on June 2nd, and it’s been quite a success across the pond; it’s this week’s #1 album on the Official UK Top 40 Albums Chart.
We got a preview with a few singles like “What Kind of Man” and “As Far As I Could Get” which both appeared on vinyl on Record Store Day and on Spotify.
It’s clear this is an outstanding album.
Feelings of longing and desire are evident throughout the album. Frontwoman Florence Welch details retrospective feelings and attempts to find meaning in decisions. The track “St. Jude” finishes with an unresolved chord – possibly indicating the need for closure. (Frustration for music nerds!)
The vocals are, of course, what we’ve come to expect: Passionate, commanding, and dynamic.
The group has a unique sound with the timbre of Welch’s voice- and it seems their sound isn’t in need of a drastic change.
There were really no risks on the album. But hey, the formula seems to work!
Florence & The Machine usually stick to guitar, keyboard, bass, and light percussion. However, this time around, they’ve introduced brass, AKA a lot of trumpets! The use of brass here creates a fuller sound, and accentuates Florence’s stellar vocals. There are strings samples in there too, which make the chords wonderfully dense.
Welch said that the “album became about trying to learn how [to] live, and how to love in the world rather than trying to escape from it.” Their lyrics have always been metaphoric, and perhaps the album’s title represents the world and her admiration for it.
The title track is definitely the most versatile on the album. It starts out slow with sparse texture, then kicks up with percussion and horn interjections. The usage of strings and horns here adds a unique flair, especially with the sick instrumental break at the end. The end is rather programmatic and filled with tension and release.
“What Kind of Man” really speaks for itself. Instrumentally, the guitar stands out with lots of distortion that gives an edgy vibe. This song is awesome, with a simple and strong message. The open harmonies in the beginning indicate a feeling of isolation, and longing for separation. The repetitive nature ensures the message gets across. Basically, what kind of man pulls this shit?
“Queen of Peace” is definitely my favorite on the album. It’s melodic, and much like something you’d hear in a film soundtrack. Seems to analyze whether or not peace can triumph in certain situations.
The longest track on the album, “Mother,” is the heaviest song on the album. It has a bluesy feel with the electric guitar and full drum set. She asks for strength to let go and rise above. Perfect track to close the album!
The band prides itself on poetic, thought-provoking lyrics, and this album is no exception. They make listeners dissect the lyrics and decipher meaning. Their tight musicianship lends well to listeners who desire authentic music. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is definitely a success for Florence & The Machine.