Florence + The Machine are back with their third album, ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’; despite local radio all but pretending that they no longer exist.
Admittedly we too are not the most fluent in Florence + The Machine, but we listened to the album with an open mind and ended up pleasantly surprised. The band essentially has two speeds… folk/indie or fast and furious pop, and both are usually used in the one song.
Current single ‘Ship To Wreck’ juggles its instant pop chorus with verses that sound like ‘Mr. Jones’ by Counting Crows, which is certainly not a bad thing!
Previous single ‘What Kind Of Man’ is another perfect example of this two-speed hypothesis. The verses are pretty bare, instrumentally speaking, before everything explodes into a Kelly Clarkson-esque pop/rock chorus.
Whilst this formula may start to grate a few tracks in, Florence keeps the listener interested by throwing in a curveball or two throughout the album. For instance, ‘Delilah’ changes tempo midway through and uses chanting to give things a gospel touch. It’s the kind of song that we wouldn’t mind Adele doing on her long awaited next album.
Similarly, ‘Third Eye’ is another interesting track, with a luscious blue-eyed soul pop sensibility and vocals that scream for your attention.
The title track is a bit more 1960s-inspired, and has a beautiful orchestral ending.
Our favourite moment though is undoubtedly ‘Queen Of Peace’. We love this pulsing, musically rich song that is grand in every way. It’s almost a British counterpart to Kimbra’s ‘Cameo Lover’. It’s even good enough to make up for the album’s lacklustre ballads ‘Long & Lost’ and ‘St. Jude’.
Far better in the ballad stakes is ‘Various Storms And Saints’ with its sweeping violins and ‘Hold on to your heart’ refrain.
The great thing about ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’ is that it’s the kind of album that demands your focus, even if you listen to it in the background like we did initially.
Florence Welch still has that magnetic voice that both caresses and haunts its listeners.
Whilst some third albums show signs of fatigue, Florence and co have maintained their consistency and have pulled together a very enjoyable 49 minutes for even casual fans like us!
Download : Ship To Wreck, Queen Of Peace