Lungs – Florence + the Machine

Lungs

Florence + the Machine

2009

Island

So, I have a kind of confession to make.  It’s rather embarrassing, so I hope you don’t mind if I break down and weep a little while typing this.  You see, I… I… I never listened to Florence + the Machine until just recently.  Whew, that… that felt good to get off my chest.  Hear me, world: I only just recently listened to this critically acclaimed band! So cathartic.  I just want to scream it from rooftops.

Seriously, however, it’s true; not only did I not listen to Florence + the Machine until the other day, I actively ignored this band.  If their songs came on the radio, I’d switch stations.  If a commercial played with one of their songs licensed to it, I turned off the TV.  If a friend had free tickets to go see them, I’d take the tickets, rip them up, and burn my friend’s house down.

Honestly, I’m not sure why I avoided them so much.  I guess that they were so hyped-up that I never wanted to listen to them (what I’m coining now as “The Hipster Defense”), and for some reason I assumed that they sounded exactly like Adele (not that Adele is bad; I even kind of like her).  No matter what though, I was dead wrong.  Florence + the Machine, or at least Lungs, are an intense, talented indie-rock band with a penchant for well-written songs.

It is within these songs that one can understand why Florence + the Machine got popular off of this first album.  The band knows how to arrange their music into dramatic soundscapes, capable of interesting even the most casual, or in my case, hesitant listener.  Take album-opener “Dog Days are Over,” for instance.  The flawless dynamics of this song follow the archetypical form for each song of Lungs.  That is to say that the band knows how to let the songs flow; they certainly use their quiet moments to lead into their loud intensities, and vice versa.

Actually, the arrangements of the songs lend immediacy to the vocals.  And, honestly, the vocals are the main focus of the album.  Florence Welch’s singing is phenomenal.  She’s got great control over her voice, whether she’s quietly intimate (see the beginning of “I’m Not Calling You a Liar”) or if she’s, and this is really impressive, earnestly wailing (for a great example of this, “Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)” has a wonderful chorus).  Her voice holds each song together, no matter if it’s the fragile “My Boy Builds Coffins” or odd-ball punkish “Kiss With a Fist.”

She’s so talented, I almost find her attractive.
…okay, that was mean. This is a sub-par picture of her. She’s just rather average.

Welch’s singing voice may be the focal point of the album, but she also knows when to let her band allow the music to speak as well.  What’s nice is that the rhythmic section isn’t straightforward (well, very little on Lungs actually is).  The the aptly named “Drumming Song” — the band finds a groove that works, and Welch’s lyrics (“There’s a drumming noise inside my head / that throws me to the ground / I swear that you should hear it / It makes such an all mighty sound”), while conjuring up The Master, do fit perfectly over it.

Really, Florence + the Machine act as a cyclical entity.  The arrangements on the songs work perfectly for Florence Welch’s voice, and her voice lends way for the band’s particular style of music, which creates a perfect bubble for the lyrics to exist in.  And as long as I’m confessing, it’s very strange for me to enjoy every song on an album, and yet, the palpable emotions apparent on Lungs pulled me in every time, so much so that I found myself wanting more even after the album had finished.  It’s a powerful, consuming album, and it shows off a well-oiled machine.

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