Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Florence + the Machine: "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" (album review)

Florence + The Machine have made one heck of an impact since their debut.  Nobody quite sounded like them, and they truly were a breath of fresh air among a stagnant indie rock scene.  Recently they returned with their third full length album.

It's hard to characterize How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful  as anything other than a transitional record.  Florence et al still have the frenetic, full sound that made the first two albums stand out, but they are definitely new elements that creep into the music.

While the band have always had some Gothic elements to it, it's far more in-your-face in the vocals on "What Kind Of Man".  The other side of that coin is the Gospel-inspired tracks like "Caught".  On the wilder side is the title track, which adds previously unheard flashy horns.

Existing fans needn't fret.  There's still plenty on this record that sounds like what came before.  "Delilah" has that slow building fire that has been a hallmark of Florence's most memorable work.  The standout "Third Eye" is the rocker with the impenetrable sheen that we've grown to love.

Not everything works.  Tracks like the subdued "Various Storms & Saints" are far too tame to be interesting.

In all it's a record that isn't as strong as the first two, but does document growth and expansion in the Florence sound.

Best tracks: "Third Eye", "What Kind of Man"

Track listing for How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful:
  • Ship To Wreck
  • What Kind of Man
  • How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
  • Queen of Peace
  • Various Storms & Saints
  • Delilah
  • Long & Lost
  • Caught
  • Third Eye
  • St. Jude
  • Mother

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