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Florence + the Machine


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Altpop rock

Status:

Most recent release, MTV Unplugged (live CD/DVD, 2012); most recent release of all-new material, Ceremonials (2011)

See also:

Florence + the Machine's site

Florence + the Machine's MySpace page

Comparisons:

Bat for Lashes or Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond)

Covers/own material:

Co-written and covers

General comments:

She is an incredible presence, with a great set of lungs. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Comments about live performance:

Enjoyed it thoroughly. Florence was dolled up with glitter make up and a smart gown, and revealed herself to be fun, to be having fun, and to have a great, bluesy voice that took me by surprise. (11/08, adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Dressed in a flowing white ruffled '70s dress with her red (orange) hair and black eyeliner, Florence looked rather like a certain other British singer. During the songs, Florence's theatrical hand gestures and wild eyes further added to the wutheringness of it all. Her powerful bluesy voice keeps her out of the ethereal and arty territory that her lyrics could lead to. Florence is possessed during the songs, hair flailing, fiercely whacking her drums, yet between songs she quietly and primly says "thank you very much. thank you" and smiles sweetly.
     'Howl' and 'Drumming' were wild and 'Rabbit heart', 'Dog days' and 'You've got the love' lots of fun. 'Cosmic love' ("perhaps my favorite on the album" Florence said) was gorgeous. 'Kiss with a fist' was a mess, neither fun garage pop or girl group—too much going on. With numerous guitars, percussion, keyboards, computer, recorded backing vocals and a harp, the arrangements could have been rich and full but instead they were cluttered and mediocre. Not a band that lives up to her voice. The harpist seemed to play on all the songs, which was cool, not that you could distinguish it from the other instruments.
     The sold-out house loved Florence and many knew the lyrics even though the album has only just been released in the US. (10/09, k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

Recommended first album:

Lungs is her/their debut

Recordings:

  • Lungs (2009)
  • iTunes Festival: London 2010 EP (live, 2010)
  • iTunes Live from Soho EP (live, 2010)
  • Lungs—The B-Sides (2011)
  • Ceremonials (2011)
  • MTV Unplugged (live CD/DVD, 2012)

Lungs

Release info:

2009—Universal Republic

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for pop/rock fans

Group members:

Florence Welch—vocals, backing vocals, drums, percussion

Guest artists:

Ladonna Harley-Peter, Victoria Akintola—backing vocals (7, 8)
Christopher Lloyd Hayden—drums (1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 11, 13)
Martin Slattery—drums (6)
James Ford—drums (7, 8); bass (1, 7); organ (7)
Isabella Summers, Charlie Hugall—drums, percussion
Rob Ackroyd—guitar (1, 5, 10, 13); bass (5)
Tim McCall—guitar (5)
Leo Abrahams—guitar (6)
Stephen Mackey—bass (5, 6)
Mete Burch Bator—bass (10)
Charle Hugal—bass (13)
Isbaella Summers—piano (1, 3, 7, 8)
Tom Moth—harp (1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
Sally Herbert—string arrangments, violin
Everton Nelson—violin
Bruce White—viola
Ian Burdge—cello (1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 12)
Charlie Henry—cello (10)
Duncan "Pixie" Mills—Hammond organ (10)

Produced by:

James Ford (1, 3, 7, 8), Paul Peworth (2, 4, 9, 12), Stephen Mackey (5, 6); Charlie Hugall (10, 13), Eg White (11)

Comments:

Very, very tasty and verrry unusual. It's a weird beast, all right. At once dense, layered, uplifting and unlike anything I've been hearing for a while, it's going to take quite a while to get the full measure of it. There's almost too much going on here, too many layers to peel back. It's a rich but joyous stew and one I'm going to be enjoying for some time. Underpinning it, of course, is her voice, the big, ballsy, bluesy voice that impressed me so much when I saw her live last year. I don't think I've ever latched on to anyone so early, to watch them go so stratospheric so fast that I feel like I'm the only one who can't catch up. Yes, buy Lungs—it's a wondrous experience.
     Again, another album so out of its time, standing head and shoulders above this years crop of art-school synth-pop 80s throwbacks. A big, ballsy, bluesy voice combined with elliptical and confounding lyrics made this an uplifting experience, despite the obvious hype and big-label push (I mean, not one but TWO special editions of the same CD within the year of its release?) and despite hers being one of my most unenjoyable gigs ever, I still love this album. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Have to echo the recommendations for Florence + The Machine. Think a more aggressive, punk Bat for Lashes or Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), with a more powerful voice than either. Powerful, complex, tends to get better with every listen. One of my favorite albums of 2009. (jjhanson@att.net)

She's getting Kate Bush comparisons, but it feels to me like Kate Bush filtered through the '60s girl group soul sound that's been popular of late. Not sure how much the album coheres as a whole and it feels overlong, but she sounds like one of those really special, singular voices who will be around for a while making risky, engaging music. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

An album I love every minute of. One of my top 50 albums of the 00s. (gordodo@optonline.net)

This album came out of nowhere and knocked me over the head. There are too many amazing songs to list but "Dog Days Are Over," "Rabbit Heart," "Drumming Song," My Boy Builds Coffins." "Cosmic Love" is my favorite though. It's epic and huge and it rips my heart out. One of my top ten of 2009. (jonwesleyhuff@gmail.com)

I really want to like her, but she seems so loud and shouty... can't get into it! (lasherboy@gmail.com)

Alas, I ditto lasherboy. I tried and failed to like this, though I didn't hate it by any means. (Neile)

Lately, I have been listening to Lungs as well as Ceremonials. I like it much better now. (christina_skov@hotmail.com)


Ceremonials

Release info:

2011—Universal Republic—B0016297-02

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Florence Welch—vocals

Guest artists:

Robert Ackroyd—guitar (1, 3)
Christopher Lloyd Hayden—drums (1, 3); percussion (2); background vocals (1-4, 7-10)
Tom Monger—harp (1); bass guitar (8)
Mark Saunders—percussion (1-2, 7, 9); bass (3, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12); additional guitar (11); background vocals (1-4, 7-9)
Rusty Bradshaw—keyboards (1-5, 7-10, 12); Hammond organ (6)
Lucy Shaw—double bass (1)
Bullion—drum programming and additional esoteric sonics (1, 2, 4, 5, 9)
Paul Epworth—pump organ (2)
Isabella Summers—piano (6, 11); drum programming (7, 11); piano, strings & choir parts (7); synth (8); celeste & programming (11)
Nikolaj Torp Larsen—piano (6, 10)
Jack Penate, Sian Alice, Lisa Moorish, Jesse Ware—background vocals (1-4, 7-9)
Sally Herbert—violin and string arrangements (1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Oli Langford, Rick Koster, Gillon Cameron, Warren Zielinski, Richard George—violins (1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Max Baillie—viola (1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Ian Burdge—cello (1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11)

Produced by:

Paul Epworth

Comments:

I wasn't a big fan of her debut, Lungs, but could easily appreciate the enormous talent that Florence Welch possessed. Her new album Ceremonials seems to address the issues I had with Lungs, and the result is one of the most impressive albums of the year. Her vocals are a bit more controlled, not as shout-y, and the song cycle feels like a journey. There's a cohesiveness to Ceremonials that her debut lacked. The artistic success of this album reminds me of Alanis Morissette's Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie—both sophomore albums are cathartic, lengthy, poetic and timeless. (lasherboy@gmail.com)

I am so loving this album. It makes me think Annie Lennox meets Toni Childs. And "Shake It Out" really reminds me of Rebecca Timmons' "Believe." (JoAnn Whetsell)

Florence often got compared to Kate Bush when her first album came out, and while I don't think she is quite the genius Kate is—I do think she's one of the most amazingly creative singers—this is very solid album—still don't think Florence has reached her peak yet though. (jjhanson@att.net)

I didn't *get* Lungs when it came out, and at first I found this much too shouty and samey. But the big sound grew on me. (christina_skov@hotmail.com)

A big-hearted slice of epic, sprawling, stirring stuff. It doesn't have the immediacy of her debut, but that works in its favour. It has style, it has soul and it's good, good fun. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

One of the best albums of the year. (gordodo@optonline.net, jonwesleyhuff@gmail.com)


MTv Unplugged

Release info:

2012—Universal Republic—6 02527 98326 4

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Medium

Group members:

Florence Welch

Guest artists:

Christopher Lloyd Hayden
Rob Ackroyd
Rusty Bradshaw
Tom Monger
Josh Homme—vocals (8)
Samantha White, Cecilia Ampadu, Elrenia Bailey, Nicholas Cobb, Troy Ellis, Twanna Gause, Tia Holt, Michelle Hutcherson, Ahmad James, Tanya Maryoung, Barry Parker, Sonja Price, Tana Roseboro, Gary Vincent, Roz Vincent, Charles Watterson—chorus
Eliano Braz, Rebecca Cherry, David Gotay, Jerry Jean, Juliette Jones, Earl Manien—strings

Comments:

What I love most about Florence Welch is her intensity, so this disc is a letdown because given the confines of the Unplugged setting it all feels kind of like Florence lite, a pale imitation of the studio recordings. The most successful songs ("Breaking Down," the acoustic version of "Shake It Out") are those that go in the opposite direction of the albums, becoming quiet and intimate. Sometimes the band does that but Florence doesn't quite get there herself, continuing to belt. Too bad. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

Tracks only available on compilations include:

  • "Heavy in Your Arms" on The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack (2010)
  • "Dog Days Are Over (Yeasayer Remix)" on Proud to Be Woman, Vol. 2 (2011)
  • "Not Fade Away" on the Rave on Buddy Holly tribute (2011)
  • "You've Got the Love (Mark Knight Remix)" on Ibiza 2011, Volume 2 (2011)
Florence Welch sings the title track on David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's Here Lies Love (2010).

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2012-08-20 16:07:55.
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