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Lungs

July 7, 2009 | Format: MP3

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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 11, 2009
Format: Audio CD
"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!").
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
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.
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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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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