Florence Returns in a Blaze for “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”

After a four year hiatus, Florence + The Machine has released their third studio album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. 

Queen of art rock, Florence Welch, pours her heart out over the course of 11 tracks. After taking some time off to nurse “a bit of a mental breakdown,” Welch comes blazing back to the public eye with the soaring vocals and epic indie rock anthems we all love.

The opening track, Ship to Wreck, begins with a hook remnant of Fleetwood Mac accompanied by Welch’s pleading lyrics. She sings of the inevitable demise of relationships. She belts: “am I losing touch, did I build a ship to wreck?” with her signature, effortless vibrato. This is just the first chapter of the relationship rollercoaster Welch takes us on throughout How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. 

The second track and first single, What Kind of Man” gives fans the moody crooning and atmospheric beat we came to love on the second album, Ceremonials. But that soon dissolves into a plucky guitar hook with a backup chorus – complete with stomps and claps.

Florence-The-Machine-2015-Tom-Beard

Halfway through the album she slows the tempo with “Various Storms & Saints.” Simple in construction, this emotional tracks lets the light shine on Welch’s confessional lyrics, “I know you’re bleeding, but you’ll be okay. Hold on to your heart, you’ll keep it safe.” The music swirls to a crescendo just before it ends on an impressive vocal climax from Welch.

After taking a slight detour during the Motown dance anthem “Delilah,” we come back to the inevitable haunting chorus in “Long & Lost.”

Another biblical reference comes with the ballad “St. Jude” before the cresting finale “Mother.” This track is the rock ‘n roll cherry on top of the extravagant construction that is the rest of the album. The psychedelic guitars are paired with classic shouts and a banging chorus. The prolonged outro was surely written specifically with live performances in mind. Welch gives us one last taste of her arching vocals and layered orchestration.

The Machine have come a long way since their first punchy, indie-pop single “Kiss With a Fist” from 2008. Florence Welch has blossomed into an extravagant songwriter with a knack for emotional lyrics, aquatic references, and biblical allusions.

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is the more mature and emotional companion to the group’s already stellar discography. It’s the perfect lavish, sturdy record that’s sure to be a hit while the band makes their festival rounds this summer.

Check out Florence and hear just how big and beautiful they are as they headline Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Governors Ball this summer. Or, stream the album below to get a first listen.

 

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