How big, how blue, how beautiful, indeed.
Her voice is big, the lyrics are blue (as in filled with heart-wrenching pain and sadness) and all together the album is beautiful.
Mother earth graces every Florence + The Machine record in one way or another, and their third studio album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is no different. From the title to the last track, water, specifically the ocean, flows through every melody and word, creating an abundance of sea and biblical analogies to paint a picture of heartbreak and new life.
“Ship to Wreck“ puts you in a tiny sailboat in the middle of the deep ocean. This ship is your transportation through the 69-minute deluxe addition of the record. You journey through the calm, the storm, the wreckage, and the rejuvenation after the recovery of a broken heart and a swim all narrated by Welch’s incredible haunting voice, vast melodies and literature-worthy lyrics.
By 0:55 of the second track, “What Kind Of Man,“ you have a broken limb, the waves are picking up, and you aren’t sure you are going to make it out of this heartbreak (or this album) alive.
Florence Welch sings with a passion and a pain that can’t be manufactured. Her voice gives you chills and warms you up at the same time. This album doesn’t disappoint for a single beat when it comes to showing off Welch’s rage and her ability to be a powerhouse and a raw, free spirit at the same time.
This album was the right move for the third Florence + The Machine record. It has everything that is expected and desired by fans from a Florence record; vocals that blow it out of the water, beats that make you want to move, and literary devices that revive an author. But it’s fresh and unique and different enough from their previous music that you don’t feel the need to compare. It’s still Florence: celebratory, refreshing and filled with light and life. But this album, much like the ocean at night, is a bit more mysterious, haunting and darker. You can feel more pain, but you also see more of a light on the shore.
As a whole, it’s a beautiful piece of art, masterfully laced together through a watery concept. The only “flaw” that makes its self clearly apparent is that three (“What Kind of Man”, “St Jude” and “Delilah”) out of the five best songs off the album were released as singles before How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful came out. This is a strategy to get people excited and critics whispering early praise, but it’s also a little disappointing. It’s like when you see a movie and all the funniest parts were in the trailer. It’s still a funny movie, you just already saw (or in this case heard) the best material.
“Third Eye,” a definite highlight and standout on the record, is when the clouds break, the storm clears and hope for smooth sailing appears.
“You don’t have to be a ghost, here amongst the living. You are flesh and blood! And you deserve to be loved.”
This song, as well as the rest of the album, has an incredible balance of the story seeming genuine and personal to the artist but also seeming like a global message, a call to all of us.
The album concludes with an eloquent wrap up of the life cycle, the last phase of a healing heart and the album, by bringing it back to mother nature and completing the circle.
“Mother, make me, make me a big grey cloud, so I can rain on you things I can’t say out loud.”
You can sit in a cold shower and cry to this record, you can pull out your hair and scream to this record, and you can run through a field and be free to this record. And isn’t that how great records are supposed to make you feel?
No one else right now does what Florence + The Machine does with quite as much elegance, authenticity and effortlessness as Florence + The Machine themselves. Oh yeah, and with complete bad-asstry (the mastery of being a bad ass) like Florence.
Catch Florence + The Machine on tour this summer! Florence Welch and her crew have a few shows left in the US this summer, and then they are headed all over Europe!