144 of 150 people found the following review helpful
"Happiness hit her like a train on a track/Coming towards her stuck still no turning back/She hid around corners and she hid under beds/She killed it with kisses and from it she fled..."
Florence and the Machine is one of those little bands that seeps in under the pop radar, and becomes a sensation based on pure talent. And Florence Welch and Co. produce a solid debut, "Lungs," that blends delicate polished instrumentals and different genres -- there's little splatters of pop, punk and soul woven together, and cemented in place by Welch's lovely voice.
It kicks off with the plucked intro of "Dog Days Are Over," with Welch's sweet voice singing about "Happiness hit her like a bullet in the head/Struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that." While it starts off as soft, ethereal pop, the melody is swathed in eruptions of orchestral pop-rock -- it gets loud'n'catchy, with Welch yelling, "The doooog days are OVER-ER/the dooooog days are ALL DONE!"
She continues the high note with "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," a scintillatingly colorful melody that sounds like a thunderstorm in a flower garden. After that she unleashes a bunch of other great songs: the soulful "I'm Not Calling You A Liar," the urgent piano-pop of "Howl," the wandering twangy "Girl With One Eye," the bouncy wistful "Between Two Lungs," and the sweetly macabre "My Boy Builds Coffins." An especially fun one is "Kiss With A Fist," a blazing punky tune that celebrates rough'n'passionate relationships ("You hit me once, I hit you back/you gave a kick, I gave a slap/you crashed a plate over my head/and I set fire to our bed!").
But Welch and her revolving-door band really shine when the music overflows into a steady river of fiery rock'n'roll, wrapped in twisting gossamer synth and soaring rich vocals. "Howl," the hymnlike "Drumming" and the bleak "Hurricane Drunk" all fit into this category -- and these are absolutely stunning songs, if not as immediately accessible as the catchier tunes.
Florence and the Machine has a pretty unique sound -- there's a lot of punky rock'n'roll, a spattering of pop's catchiness, and some jazzy overtones woven into a few of the songs. As debut albums go, this is a pretty spectacular one, with a distinctive flavour that sounds like little else in modern music -- the closest comparison that comes to mind would be if Joanna Newsom formed a punk-rock band and went for pop stardom.
In particular, Welch has a very pretty voice -- it's a little wavery and girlish, but she sculpts it into a flickering, roaring presence in the louder songs. And she has a knack for dark, evocative lyrics ("Louder than sirens, louder than bells/sweeter than heaven and hotter than hell!") with a quirky edge ("He's made [a coffin] for himself/One for me too/One of these days he'll make one for you"). There are a few lines that need some smoothing out, but not badly enough to distract.
And the instrumentation from The Machine is a gorgeous accompaniment -- lots of rich, swirling instrumentals and straight-ahead rock'n'roll, usually depending on Robert Ackroyd's strong electric guitar and Christopher Lloyd Hayden's solid drumming. Isabella Summers wraps the album in gossamer-soft synth, and Tom Monger adds to the ethereal edge with a harp -- it also helps give it a more classical sound, rather than straight rock-pop.
Florence and the Machine's debut "Lungs" really shows why this band has been getting so much attention across the pond -- it's passionate, eclectic and a lovely piece of work. And it sounds like they'll only get better.
67 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2009
Truly a stunning album. One of the most amazing pieces of music I have heard for many years.
Florence Welch has a voice that she uses to amazing effect. It reminds me alternately of some other outstanding female vocalists, such as Grace Slick, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), Sinead O'Connor, Dido but somehow seems to transcend all of them.
There is an intimacy and warmth she projects, combined with a great power, yet at times projects and air of frailty and vulnerability.
The music itself is pop of the highest quality, and the at-times sparse mixes move seamlessly between driving rhythms and allusive, haunting and captivating airiness.
The way that instruments such as harp are highlighted and allowed to interact with, and emphasize Florence's voice is wonderful.
The lyrics repay careful listening, being very much out of the ordinary.
Standout track of this album is Rabbit Heart (Lift It Up), but any of these songs would, to my mind, be outstanding among the very best music ever recorded.
I entitled this review "The Best Album of 2009 (So Far)", but I would not be at all surprised if I didn't hear a better album than this for several years. Truly, truly a gem.
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2009
There are no words to describe how AMAZING this album is. From the beginning all its way through the end the music you find here is an unforgettable experience. Before I jump into conclusions with some of the songs let me tell you that this girl is so talented on her own terms. The production of the album is stunning and the arrangements of the instruments flow in such an incredible way and natural form that you might believe that perfection is what you hear. A piano here, an Arp there (such a beautiful inclusion to this record), an electric and acoustic guitar every now and then make the songs come up with their own personality.
"Dogs days are over", "I'm not calling you a liar" and "Drumming song" fight againts the traditional way of a song structure... there's a point where you don't know what you're listening and yet, you can't stop tapping your foot on the floor at the rythm of the music. Great songs for sure. "Rabbit heart (raise it up)" (of course!!!), "Kiss with a fist" and "You've got the love" are meant to be the commercial ones??? on the record... not that they're less impressive because of this 'cause once you hear the first one you fall in love with it right away. To point out one of tem in particular, I find "My boy builds coffins" a masterpiece. For some reason everything falls right in place here.
"Lungs" is by far one the best records of this year and for sure will be one of the best in the first decade of the 2000's. Because of projects like Florence + the machine and Bat for lashes (I must say), we know that if this kind of music is coming up from such young girls, we can expect a bright future for music itself. It is ok that we have ALL kinds of music: the bubblegum one (with all the annoying scene in the US), abstract one (a la Radiohead) and commercial-respected one (R.E.M., U2, Muse or even Placebo). But if we didn't have the independent one and all the UK scene going on, the whole music universe would be so predictable.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2010
I first heard Florence + the Machine on YouTube, the home of the music video ever since Mtv became the home of inane "reality" shows. I think I must have played the videos I could find by this band ten or more times in a row. Ever since the divine Kate Bush stopped releasing albums on a bi-yearly pace (she now is on the decade-release schedule, along with Peter Gabriel), I've been missing this kind of sound: a strong voice that can span octaves who understands dynamics and has a decent production that mixes simple piano lines with driving beats and layers of overdubs that don't muddy the whole thing but give it a sense of unrestrained joy. That's about as good a description as I can give you of "Dog Days Are Over," which starts off slow with some kind of repetitive plucked string instrument (mandolin?) and Florence Welch's soft vocal, then adds handclaps, piano chords, and harp, and builds with a great bass beat, as the vocal builds in both intensity and adds an overdubbed background vocal choir. Halfway through it calms again, to catch its breath, then hits again at full steam. It's a great song, even if I have no idea what the lyrics are actually about.
And that first song isn't even as good as the next song, "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," which combines the better parts of Bush, Sarah McLachlan, and Loreena McKennitt in a lush song picture. This is the kind of experimental rock music I yearn for, especially that break right around the one minute mark where it breaks into a huge chorus with multiple voices (or, more likely, simply overdubs by Florence). The verses have this interplay between the lead vocal and a responsive background chorus, similar to some of the songs on the back side of Hounds of Love. Yes, I can't stop comparing these songs to Kate Bush, and there's no better recommendation I can make than that. Other songs in this vein include "Drumming," "Cosmic Love," "You've Got the Love," and "Binding" (the drum part in this one, in particular, reminds me of "Running Up That Hill").
Listening to the album from the beginning, it would be easy to think that Florence was simply going to be Kate Bush-like, but there's enough variance on this album to showcase her own style. "I'm Not Calling You a Liar" is more bluesy, albeit by the way of some blues that invoives a harp and a piano instead of a steel guitar. Even more bluesy is "Girl with One Eye," which uses just guitar and drums along with Florence's vocals. The nice thing about this song, however, is that it does the soft, loud, soft thing that the first couple of songs did. "Hurricane Drunk" and "Howl" have traces of hip-hop, or at least modern R&B, in its delivery, although the vocal delivery and instrumentation are strictly this nouveau folk experience that I assume is Florence's assimilation of the last three decades of female singer-songwriters. "Kiss with a Fist" sounds like an outake from KT Tunstall's debut album, replacing all that folk sound that I've been going on about above with a guitar + drums sound that's more White Stripes, including a fuzzy feedback-laden guitar solo. This song seems to have been somewhat controversial, as the lyrics seem to describe a domestic violence situation and comes close to celebrating it, rather than providing the politically correct statement.
Overall, this is the strongest album I have heard in the last ten years. Every song has power, either in Florence's strong vocals or through the unique combination of multi-vocal choirs and acoustic rhythms (handclaps and punctuated piano chords, mostly), unlikely pairings of traditional and modern sounds, and a focus on using variance as a part of the music. That is, songs will start soft and become loud, or switch midstream between slow and fast. It's so unusual in these days of mastering everything to 11 that songs which even have soft sections like this come across as an innovation (whereas it was a prominent feature of pretty much ever progressive rock album in the 70s).
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2011
I normally steer clear of most chart music these days after the onslaught of X-Factor and other cheap manufactured music, but when I heard Florence and the Machine on the radio I had to check the album out and I am so glad I did. This offers up a selection of tracks that will raise a smile, get your heart pumping and all performed in Florences's unique vocal style. The album opener `Dog Days are Over' is great and that drum beat is infectious and gets me clapping along with it nearly every time. There are so many good tracks on offer but I love `Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)' and `Howl', the latter one has a great chorus that will have you singing along to. This album has been highly lauded in the music press and industry (and garnered praise and awards at the Brit Awards) and that is normally a death knell for any self respecting band., but this album manages to live up to the hype and makes for around an hours great listening. Who couldn't be captivated by those vocals on album closer and cover `You've Got the Love'? Well worth a try.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2009
The singer's voice is the definition of powerful. This edition of Florence and the Machine's debut album is a two disc version. The first CD is the same as the single disc you will see in stores.
The second disc is a DVD full of goodies. It has music videos(full version, not just extracts) for "Dog Days Are Over", "Drumming Song", and "Kiss With A Fist". Next, it contains videos of live performances of these three songs, performed by Florence and the Machine at the Rivoli Ballroom. The singer provides short introductions to each performance, which are pretty entertaining. Watching these makes you wish you were a part of the audience. :)
So if you can find this edition, definitely grab it! :D
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2010
1 Dog Days Are Over
2 Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
3 I'm Not Calling You A Liar
5 Kiss With A Fist
6 Girl With One Eye
7 Drumming Song
8 Between Two Lungs
9 Cosmic Love
10 My Boy Builds Coffins
11 Hurricane Drunk
13 You've Got The Love
14 Enhanced Element
15 Bird Song Intro
16 Bird Song
17 Dog Days Are Over (Demo)
19 Hardest Of Hearts
20 Ghosts (Demo)
21 Girl With One Eye (Bayou Percussion Version)
23 Dog Days Are Over
24 Kiss With A Fist Video
25 Drumming Song Video
26 You've Got the Love
27 Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2009
I have not listened so much to an album since Seldom Seen Kid. It is truly amazing that talent like this can suddenly emerge almost by accident. Lyrics with bite, beautiful music with vocals that go full bore for the senses. Those lucky enough to have seen her live are giving raves and the venerable BBC are pushing her forward.
World look out!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2010
Pipes AND lyrics, to boot: I highly recommend the album, aptly-titled "Lungs" by the band Florence + The Machine; especially the song "Dog Days Are Over". The artist's incredible, lilting voice, combined with the biting lyrical witticism of her music, makes for addictively hypnotic listening - you'll want to play it again and again. The quality of Florence Welch's serenading is stunning, and her vocal range is immense. The originality of the music, combined with its incredible pace and rainbow-like auditory layering, makes me feel like I am in the middle of the coolest rock concert ever - right in my own living room. Thank you for sharing this music with me, Matthew. - Chipper F. Xavier, Esq.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I have to add my voice to the cacophony singing Florence + the Machine's praises. This is an unbelievable album from a whopper of a talent. I first heard "Hurricane Drunk" on KCRW and within minutes had committed to buying the whole album. That was a month ago, and I gotta tell you, the album still hasn't gotten old despite repeated playings.
Sure, I may be a bit obsessed. But the last time I was this excited about a new artist was when Scissor Sisters came on the scene years ago, and that's saying something.
- Drumming Song
- Hurricane Drunk
- Girl with One Eye