Lungs – Florence + The Machine, 2009

I have begun to write this particular blog so many times that finally an incentive occured to me.  Last night I went out and bought F+tM’s new record, Ceremonials, and I am allowing myself to listen to it only once I’ve finally published this.  So you can be guaranteed what I’ll be up to for the hour following this post.  I’m pretty stoked.

I think my problem has been that I have attempted to listen to Lungs (with the intention of blogging) on several trips, and by the time I arrive at my destination I have no time to actually do something with my thoughts.  This has happened on 4 separate occasions, and I am left to at least notice that this is a great album to travel with.  It sounds especially great when you are alone and the volume is up, so that you can sing along loudly whether or not you know the lyrics; it just makes us want to yell.

Dog Days Are Over is one of those songs that has been impossible to avoid, not that I’ve bothered to try.  The hopeful anthem is rather perfect for drama of all kinds, being pushed forward by action, excitement, and fantasy.  The first track wisely asks us to let go and set our sights on the good that’s coming, and sets the tone for the rest of the album both instrumentally – with plucked harp and heavy drums – and atmospherically.

“Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” continues with a similar sense of freedom.  It’s hard to picture anything other than some beautiful Stevie Nick-ian woman running through an enchanted forest.  Spiritual-mythological themes are introduced, causing many to describe Lungs as Goth-pop as she uses fantasy lit imagery to invite us into her world and question it with her.   In turn, we are also invited to question the things we know of our own world.

“I’m Not Calling You a Liar” is so stunning and always makes me think of the Ani lyrics that compare liars with alcoholics, asking, “Has he changed?…  Or is he just a liar with nothing to lie about?”  By the time “Howl” hits the course, I am seriously wondering how one woman can carry the energy of so far 4 phenomenal tracks in a row on one album.  I know recording isn’t that simple, but I am almost exhausted just from pretending to Florence; what must it be like to have such ideas and passion that exudes itself all over this record?

Now for something a little different.  “Kiss With a Fist” was my first Florence song, so I have a soft spot for it.   Even though this song feels more similar to contemporaries like Lily Allen or Kate Nash in its playfulness and violence, Florence hits this genre harder, and shows off her ability to just plain rock out.  And right before slowing down and giving us the bluesy, and morbid ballad, “Girl With One Eye”; one of the many tracks that reminds me of Annie Lennox in her uniquely powerful, story-telling voice.

“Drumming Song” “Between Two Lungs, “Cosmic Love” come as a triplet, acting as not only the middle section of the album, but the mysterious center of the setting we’ve been drawn into.  The first and last are two of my favorite songs to blast in the car and drum along to, and all three give a context for the album title as they explore the physical and visceral of life and death, love and purpose.  Life and death continue to be contemplated even more explicitly in “My Boy Builds Coffins”. 

“Hurricane Drunk”, though still thematically dark has a lighter tone and sounds the most like a pop song so far.  I get a little annoyed when this song fades out, but when “Blinding” sets in I forgive and forget, as the softer song builds.  I really can’t believe that this album is able to sound so cohesive and consistent in tone and setting, and yet I still can’t say I’ve had enough.  I am still stoked to rip open the new album and listen to more of the same!  But before I need to do that, Florence presents me with one of my all time favorite covers of “You’ve Got the Love”.  The album finishes, but my time with Florence does not.  If you loved the last track as well, it was remixed by the genius Jamie from The XX.  Listen to it here.

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