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Album Review

by Florence + The Machine

Universal Music

Review Date
4th August 2009
Reviewed by
Courtney Sanders


It’s really weird when you discover an artist among the myriad of ‘up-and-comers’, and download a couple of demos and get really into them and then a little while later your friends return from London to explain: “that chick singer you were talking about ages ago is HUGE in the UK – her face is on the side of trains and shit”. And then you see that said artist is number two in the UK charts second only to Michael Jackson RIP and then you see that The Groove Guide has written a second article about her after you wrote one a couple of months back in Real Groove.

Yep, Florence Welch, AKA Florence and the Machine is a big deal people. And the production on Two Lungs leaves no two ways about this. Going from the demos and vinyl EP’s that I’d ordered over the past few months to this was quite disconcerting. Several producers, particularly James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco (who’s responsible for massive production of Arctic Monkeys and the like) lend their talents, and they’ve gone crazy with the overdubbing – Florence’s vocals are at least thrice deep on most tracks – and the cleaning up – the once raw pitch-awkward-but-creatively-perfect notes are gone, as is the emphasis on the acoustic washboard / bass drum / park bench / anything one can find rhythm section. Replaced by deep, swooning hand claps, maraca’s, tambourines, pianos and synthesizers, this is certainly a big sound, by a big artist, and leaves earlier singles on the album, namely ‘Kiss with a Fist’ and ‘Dog Days are Over’ sounding a little out of place.

But these are only slight criticisms in comparison to what she was, which was an underground singer with little or no musical experience writing poems that her immaculate rasp eventually turned into songs, often with no instrumental accompaniment. And she’s not that artist anymore. On Lungs these organic elements are still in place in bucket loads and because of this plus the exaggerated production, the album is an absolutely decadent romp through cornerstones, or at least the emotional integrity of spoken word, rrriot girl, ‘60’s female icons like Patti Smith, all-the-while ultimately rekindling blues greats, and it’s all contained neatly in a flame haired femme with well, impeccable lungs who’s got some issues, mainly about relationships, and what’s she doing about it? Getting fucking angry and vindictive is what. ‘Kiss with a Fist’ is an anthem for bad break ups everywhere; the video clip displays a lingerie clad Welch shouting “You hit me once / I hit you back / I gave a kick / You gave slap … A kiss with a fist is better than none” atop a faux (red and yellow cellophane creating the effect in this case) burning bed, but it’s probably the underlying tension and absolutely sardonic cruelty that’s present in tracks like ‘Girl with one Eye’ in which she croons: ‘I slipped my hand under her skirt / I said hey, this ain’t gonna hurt / Oh my reputation is crowded with dirt / That’s why you sleep with one eye open / and that’s the price you pay” followed by a devastating chorus where the wail is wielded to full effect for “Girl with one eye / Get your fingers out of my pie / I’ll cut your little heart out / Because you made me cry”. You actually imagine a frightened little girl (who was previously a bitch, of course) in the corner, wearing an eye patch, scared for her life while these words piece the stillness of her little space - scary shit.

She won a Brit award, played Glastonbury and toured with MGMT before this album had even been released. Whatever she’s got coming up it’s going to be big, which suits this album just fine. But then hey, maybe a bad review can’t be found because from Lungs you get the feeling she’s capable of kicking some serious ass?

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