Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Florence and the Machine: Lungs Album Review

I first heard Florence and the Machine about a year ago when I downloaded their EP A Lot of Love, A Lot of Blood from iTunes. I was initially drawn to their cover of Cold War Kids' "Hospital Beds", but then found "Kiss With A Fist" to be my favorite. A lot of time went by before I heard the name Florence and the Machine again, but a month prior to the release of Lungs Florence and the Machine began to generate a lot of hype.

Florence and the Machine isn't so much a band as it is the moniker of singer Florence Welch. This is not to say that she doesn't have an array of backup performers on the album (one of which use to be Lightspeed Champion's Devonte Hynes), but in all honesty, Florence Welch is the selling point of this package. She has a tremendous voice that has the spontaneity of Regina Spektor, but with the power of an American Idol. A sort of soulful indie-rocker.

Lungs kicks off with possibly one of the best songs of the year, "Dog Days Are Over", an upbeat and powerful song that shows you just exactly what Florence and the Machine are capable of. The album's second track, and fourth single, "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" begins to show us more of what I'll call a gothic sound that Lungs posses. I'm not exactly sure how this sound is achieved. Perhaps it's the prominent harp sound or the massive overdubbing that begins to sound like a booming choir, but often times I almost feel like I'm listening to Evanescence's Amy Lee sing "Bring Me to Life". Lungs is great in the fact that it has a handful of fantastic songs that showcase Florence Welch's voice as a true instrument. My other favorite tracks include "Cosmic Love" and "Kiss With a Fist". However at the same time that many of these songs seek to showoff Florence's vocal stamina, the music itself adds too much support to an already powerful force.

Lungs makes me think back to Florence Welch's unreleased covers of Beirut, Cold War Kids, and Lightspeed Champion, where she was backed by an army of one. In these scenarios Florence's skills were truly highlighted. I understand that perhaps she is trying to reach a broader audience than the acoustic audiophiles, but I feel that many of her songs would benefit by having a little room to breath so I can hear her clearly. While Florence and the Machine's sound is fun and powerful, it is also tiresome and I don't believe that half the songs would be worth listening to if Florence Welch wasn't singing them. Florence Welch is probably one of the most talented singers out right now. She is sort of what I would imagine what our generation's Bonnie Tyler would sound like (Can't you just picture her singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart"?), but I think she still has a few cogs to work out in her Machine.

So in conclusion:

Good:"Dog Days Are Over", "Cosmic Love", Florence Welch in general.
Bad: Too much of the Machine, and channeling of Amy Lee.

I give it: 6.5/10 Bleeding Heads

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