Just watch her soar...
David Renshaw

21:51 19th May 2009

Florence Welch is a thoroughly modern pop star in the sense that so much is known of her with very little in the way of recorded output to back up the hype and accolades. From the beginnings in East London and giving SXSW 2008 technician’s heart palpitations right through to NME covers and a Brit Award, Florence and her Machine have evolved from a bluesy curiosity into a bohemian juggernaut and now finally there are twelve tracks of raw euphoria to feast upon. ‘Lungs’ is the a kaleidoscopic insight into the mind of a 23 year old eccentric smoothed at the edges with production that sounds more expensive than that moment in Only Fools ‘n’ Horses when Grandad drops the chandelier.

‘Lungs’ is a soul record for the American Apparel generation, the blues for Skins kids, and it sounds appropriately twinkly and cavernous. Long time fans will recognise the galloping runaway stomp of ‘Dog Days’ or the masochistic tale of revenge that is ‘Girl With One Eye’ though they have undergone a starry make-over giving them a glossy but neutered sheen. Similar production values are draped over ‘Between Two Lungs’ and ‘My Boy Builds Coffins’ courtesy of James Ford, Paul Epworth and Steve MacKay- seriously ‘Lungs’ don’t come cheap. Anyone who discovered Florence playing tiny venues or opening up for MGMT last year will have trouble contextualising that Florence, of wall shaking vocals and a lone beating drum, with this new Florence, the scrubbed up superstar emerging from the trees to a stage illuminated by floodlights with a screaming crowd awaiting her every breath. ‘Lungs’ packs such additional weight where really it wasn’t needed- it would not be outlandish to claim Florence is one of the most naturally talented vocalists of her generation, so why is her voice surrounded by choirs and harps at every possible opportunity? All the passion and desire needed is provided naturally, between those two lungs.

The fact that this album could have been delivered in an entirely different style is testament to the talent on hand however- a talent amply displayed throughout. The cover of Candi Staton’s ‘You Got The Love’ (on ‘Lungs’ as the closing track) the band have performed live this past year has acted as a catalyst towards a decadent and all encompassing soul-pop sound. From the Diet Bat For Lashes kookiness of ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)' through ‘Howl’, ‘Drumming’ and the epic ‘Blinding’ this is the sound of the setting sun, of frantic ecstasy clashing with an other worldly sense of freedom and spirit- it might be hackneyed at times and unexpected from a girl from Camberwell but it feels real and human, bursting through then pristine sterility of the heavy handed production.

‘Lungs’ is an album of old and new, the line between the two is noticeably clear but ultimately these two facets compliment each other in a satisfactory and comfortable manner. Yes, the bleeding heart blues girl singing naked tales of violence has had her talons clipped back but the wings are still free and wide open, just watch her soar.