By Florence And The Machine
London-born Florence Welsh is the fiery-haired, charismatically-voiced songstress behind Florence And The Machine, a band much lauded by such giants as BBC Introducing and The Guardian even before the release of debut album, 'Lungs.' After so much build up it is interesting to see whether the album can live up to the hype, and on first listen it certainly seems to; indeed, 'Lungs' has even landed Welsh with a much-coveted Mercury Music Prize nomination.
On second listen, the hype seems even further justified. Florence's strong, soulful voice interweaves throughout the type of artsy, gothic-tinged folk pop recently championed by Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes, and indeed the aesthetic has a similar, theatrically whimsical and glitzy feel, as though Kate Bush has just run head-first through a forest and then plunged onwards through a cloud of glitter. The songs of Florence And The Machine, though, are punchier and not quite as ethereal and downbeat as Bat for Lashes' offerings; indeed, first single 'Kiss with a Fist' has a bluesy, gritty feel, its upbeat tone belying the lyrical content as the vocals take on a harsher, PJ-Harvey-esque sound and she screams about an abusive relationship ("You hit me once/I hit you back/You gave a kick/I gave a slap/You smashed a plate over my head/Then I set fire to our bed.")
Highlights of the album are the glorious 'Howl,' where aching vocals entwine with soaring strings as the lyrics echo the vocal delivery ("Like some child possessed/the beast howls in my breast") as Florence's forlorn wails remind us of the pain and desire of love, and the insistent 'Drumming' which crashes and pounds its way into an elated crescendo ("It fills my head up and gets louder and louder.") No tracks, though, could be described as 'filler,' and if some of the more downbeat tracks such as the crooning 'I'm Not Calling You a Liar' and the creepy 'Girl With One Eye' seem perhaps a little flatter and less involving than other tracks, it is a minor quibble. The album ends on a slightly unusual note with an adept cover of The Source's classic dance-track 'You Got the Love,' for me, it is more a satisfactory climax to the album than a blinding one, but doesn't detract from the beauty of what has come before.