Occasionally, music just finds you. Or me, in this case.
I really had no clue what I was in for, when I listened to a Florence and the Machine song for the first time, but somehow it sucked me in, made me like it, made me buy it, and finally made me fall in love with it. And now I sit here and tell you: sheer genius! Praise the woman!
Seriously, everyone probably knows this feeling of “wow, what an amazing album … except for maybe that one song”. You know, the one you skip, the one you just can’t really like or appreciate. That ruins the whole album-listen-through-thingy for you. Here it is: The Album That I Love From Beginning To End. Yeah, take this! Written down even. I love every single song on it, and believe me, I tried to convince myself to get to that point with loads of other albums, but this one: instant success. And probably still the only one.
Florence’s voice is just amazing. She’s got unbelievable vocal abilities combined with a uniqueness that makes it instantly recognizable. I got my Lungs copy on vinyl, because a) I love vinyls, and b) because I don’t need to be able to skip a song and c) my record player has the best soundboxes in my room, so drums and all sound just better with it.
Florence Welch apparently wrote lots of the songs over a longer period of time, performing them here and there, working on them again, finally assembling the final material for the album and released this gem in July 2009 in the UK via Island and Moshi Moshi Records.
Though very successful in the UK (being one of the bestselling albums in both 09 and 2010), she’s still basically unknown in Germany and from what I’ve gathered in the US as well.
Now prepare, because I give you a song-by-song rundown of the album, complete with ranking in personal love-order. I’ve decided to leave out reviews of the special edition songs, although two of my all-time-all-Florence favs belong to them, because I’m just going to force that upon whoever cares in the future and thus limit post size and enlarge topic options. Oh, efficient me.
Awesome opening for this album (or for any album IMHO). Instantly recognizable as single material with luring verses, driving beats and claps and a chorus that is probably made of The Force. Initially I liked this song but it really took a few (read: 739) listens to realize that this is my second favourite song of the album. Doesn’t it just make you want to get up and shake your everything, while stomping the earth with your bare feet, shouting along to the chorus. And yeah, the “stop-the-music-pretend-song-is-over-then-start-again-with-full-force”-trick is old, but hey, it works. If it ain’t broken…
(Oh and yes, there are two videos for the song. Apparently they weren’t too thrilled about the first one. I’m undecided on which I like better…)
Run fast for you mother, run fast for your father, run for your children, for your sisters and brothers.
Rabbit Heart (Raise it up)
Love how this song is so very different from Dog Days yet keeps up the exact same energy. And yay!, harps! Awesome. What I like about Dog Days I like here even more, the contrast between the singing in the verses and the screaming (you may also call it: shouting) of the Chorus. And the harps. And how they clash with the drums. Kinda like the Dresden Dolls with different instruments, right? Right. In my album internal ranking it just makes the top 5.
Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
I’m not calling you a liar
Tamburines and drums and piano. And harps and claps and angel choirs. Sweet. But what really makes this song are the über-neat lyrics. L.O.V.E. And it’s definitely a big plus that she throws them sorta acapella at you in the beginning, isn’t it. Makes me listen and want to sing along. Which I do. Often. Ranked at no. 7 on my chart, but really only because all the other songs from 1-6 are so awesome, they cannot be anywhere else.
I’m not calling you a liar, just don’t lie to me.
I’m not calling you a thief, just don’t steal from me.
I’m not calling you a ghost, just stop haunting me.
Behold: My least favourite song of the album. Which is to say: I like it. It’s powerful, got that driving force and actually I more than just like it. But this whole album is so fantastically superior, that a song that I really really really like has to be the one I like the least. Makes sense, right? Listening to it makes me realize again how much of an acoustic drum person I am (I probably made all people in the world actually knowing something about music go like: ?!?). Just, you know, drums, that sound like real drums, like somebody hits them, punches them, kicks them and uses them like that for a whole song. Additionally, I’m totally oblivious to what the whole Beat-Literature thing was about, so I wonder, what exactly does FATM’s “Howl” have to do with Alan Ginsbergs “Howl”? Anybody care to enlighten me?
My blood is singing with your voice, I want to pour it out
Kiss with a fist
Definitely has a different sound to it than the rest of the songs, and I remember having heard Florence say somewhere, that this is one of the first songs she wrote and – I assume – recorded. The rest of the album developed in a slightly different direction, nevertheless it blends in perfectly, right there between Howl and Girl with one eye, who are both more of the moody kind. KWAF is basically a pop song with infectious lyrics about the wonders of violent relationships, garnered with scruffy guitars (and yes, drums) which is presumably the main reason, why it sounds different than the other songs.
You gave a kick, I gave a slap, you smashed a plate over my head.
Girl with one eye
is in the same category as I’m not calling you a liar and My boy builds coffins for me, since it has clever twisty lyrics and puts the focus on hearing and understanding them. Very acoustic-y, sit depressed in my garage after one and a half bottles of whisky kind of feel to it, which I love, but what also makes it slightly less accessible than the happier aforementioned two songs. Plus, I’m not sure if the song wouldn’t have been a bit better without the grand last build up choir-y finale.
I took a knife and cut out her eye.
I took it home and watched it wither and die.
Here it is. The first one. The first song that I ever heard by FATM, instantly connected to imagery, since I caught it via some youtube-link to the video. Which is cool. I like the video a lot. For a long time I was not sure if I liked the song, but since it was the only one of hers that I knew I listened to it a lot. Long story short, I love it, too, but it kind of fell behind others on the album, ranks #6 (which as you know by now basically says nothing). I wish the drums had a little for oomph, you know, for their prominence (hey, it’s named the “drumming song”!).
But as the water filled my mouth it couldn’t wash the echoes out.
Between two lungs
Nice intro. Slow paced, more and more instruments. Cute. And again: mentioning of lungs. Well the album title is well chosen, since every other song is about breathing, lungs, drowning, sighing and all sorts of air or non-air in human bodies. I like the build-up in this song, when it picks up the pace, slows down again, picks it up again, a little more playful now, adds a little background choir and breaks out full force. Nicely done. #9
The air has filled me head to toe, and I can see the ground far below
Harps. Harps. Harps. And drums. And sweet romantic lyrics. First few listens it was one of those tracks to me that I liked but didn’t care obsessively about. Little did I know, here it is: My ultimate Florence and the Machine Lungs number one supersong. How I love it, I can’t even tell, so before I ramble on about how awesome it is check for yourself. Have to confess though, I’m underwhelmed by the video for it.
The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
You’ve left me in the dark
My boy builds coffins
Mentioned it before: Like Girl with one eye and I’m not calling you a liar it’s all about the lyrics here (at least for me), with more guitars than on your average Lungs-song. I like how the playfulness of the music counter-balances the depressive mood of her singing. It sounds much friendlier and happier than you would probably guess by reading the lyrics alone. Actually I see so much potential in this song, that I wonder why it never became a proper single-release. There is something very iconic about the imagery it uses, right? I mean, “my boy builds coffins…” No. 8 on my very official and never-changing ranking.
One of these days he’ll make one for you.
My #11, simply because like Howl (and Blinding, thinking about it), it lacks this very distinctive chorus or kick-ass catchphrase that makes most of the other songs instant stick-in-my-brains. It’s still an awesome track with very uplifting energy, and listening to it always (like, right now) makes me think: Is it really my second to least favourite of them all, isn’t there…? Well, no. Here it is, here it stays, in all it’s goodness.
You can’t save me now, I’m in the grip of a hurricane, I’m gonna blow myself away.
Tie in at 10 with Girl with one eye. Why exactly? See explanation under Hurricane drunk, and just like HD it’s one of the songs, that when I listen to it, I think: This is so much more amazing than I remembered. The pressing drums, their punch, the mourning mood of her voice, yet it’s firm grip on my attention and emotions. It’s like being pulled down into the realm of the dead – we might just name it Hades – with more and more urge and force, draining me of all my emotions. Sounds dramatic, but yes, I find it to be really haunting.
No more dreaming of the dead, as if death itself was undone
You’ve got the love
Right after Cosmic Love and Dog Days, this one places itself firmly in the top three. Sad and happy, depressing and beautiful at the same time. I feel like repeating myself after Blinding. But – as basically with all FATM songs – it’s all about the emotions. I can oh so identify with screaming out what she just screams out there. Which might have to do with me having love in my life that makes me feel like that. And all the usual suspects are there: drums with oomph, harps with twinkle, choirs with drama. I could drown myself in that song. Nothing beats listening to it late at night, when everyone else is fast asleep, sitting in my window and smoking a cigarette (which we only smoke in tribute to Florence, naturally).
Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air, cause I know I can count on you
Yes, that was it. Already. But no more tears, there’ll be more Florence + the Machine, promised and signed.
Haven’t listened to it yet? Go, do so!