Album: Florence And The Machine, Lungs (Moshi Moshi)
Friday 03 July 2009
The BBC's annual poll to find the "Sound" of the forthcoming year has rapidly developed its own self-fulfilling critical mass, nowhere better illustrated than in the performance of Florence and the Machine's singles so far.
Between June and December of last year, her first three releases successively reached 51, 89 and 158 in the singles charts, a sad trajectory of deepening failure. But since being acclaimed by the Beeb as one of this year's hot prospects, blanket media coverage and radio airplay has managed to hoist her fourth single to number 12, still no landslide, but you see what I mean. By the end of this year, record labels will be manoeuvring all their promotion simply towards ensuring a top-five placing in the poll, virtually ensuring their artist will repeat the success of Duffy, Adele, Little Boots and, surely, Florence.
To her credit, at least Flo hasn't opted to follow the tepid retro-electropop fizz of Little Boots, La Roux and Lady Madonna – sorry, Gaga. Nor has she been persuaded into the vanilla-soul diva mode, a style which, as this album's bonus track version of Candi Staton's "You've Got the Love" demonstrates, she is more than equipped to carry off with her powerful voice and impassioned delivery.
The standard comparisons wheeled out for her – Kate Bush and Björk – are well wide of the mark, Florence so far displaying little of their diversity, both musically and thematically. The closest comparison is surely Bat for Lashes, whose whimsical witchiness and animal metaphors are reflected here in songs such as "Dog Days Are Over" ("... the horses are coming, so you better run") and the current single "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)", where she seeks to "become the lion-hearted girl, ready for a fight", reaching an apogee in the moon-touched feral romance of "Howl". Elsewhere, her attraction to the dark side is apparent in the grim metaphors of "My Boy Builds Coffins" and "Kiss with a Fist", the latter dramatising in metaphorical violence the mental anguish of romantic break-up.
Musically, it's one of the more engaging tracks here, its brutal, shabby rockabilly grind capped with a frantic two-note guitar break emblematic of the collision between immovable opposed attitudes. "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" and "Dog Days Are Over" are the two other most successful realisations of the harp-and-drums formula, though as these are three of the four singles whose lacklustre progress I referred to above, this doesn't bode well for the rest. It would be a surprise, given the weight of media coverage, if Lungs didn't scale the higher reaches of the album chart, but am I alone in considering it yet another case of a lot being made of too little?
Download this: 'Dog Days Are Over', 'Kiss with a Fist', 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)'
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
- 4 Kajieme Powell: Missouri police release video footage of second man killed by officers
- 5 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
The Top Ten: Horrible buildings
JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Celebrity Big Brother 2014 line-up: Meet the contestants from Lauren Goodger to Kellie Maloney and Audley Harrison
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women