Sunday, August 16, 2009

New and Notable: Florence + The Machine

If you haven't heard of Florence + The Machine, you're probably in the minority. I'm late to the game too as I just recently heard about a group that's been earning some serious accolades for the last couple months, but I thought even now this band was worth bringing up. The Florence in question is Florence Welch, a London native and talented songwriter with a big, emotionally charged voice who records and performs from her skilled backing band, The Machine. Together they make some captivating indie rock music on their debut, Lungs, an album that has stayed at the number two spot on the UK albums chart for the past five weeks (impressive considering they're right behind Michael Jackson) and is receiving consistently rave reviews. Really, you can't afford not to pay attention to these impressive newcomers.

I'm personally not crazy about the album's single, "Kiss With a Fist," which was the first material I heard from the band, so it took me a little while to get around to all of Lungs. Taking some good advice and giving it a listen, however, I quickly realized what the fuss was all about. Welch's dark, melancholy songwriting combined with her powerful voice immediately grabbed my attention, and then with the addition of some fantastic instrumental arrangements, I was sold after just a couple songs. I'm reminded of Bat for Lashes at times, as songs like "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" and "Cosmic Moon" - both highlights - feature similarly grand compositions and somewhat fantastic lyrics, and occasionally I hear American newbies Elizabeth and the Catapult in some of the more subdued moments like "I'm Not Calling You a Liar." But mostly these comparisons are just a product of the music I've been listening to most recently; Florence + The Machine's sound may be familiar at times but they've carved out a style all their own on this fantastic debut.

I could go on about the intriguing use of the variety of instruments found on Lungs or some specific examples of Welch's gloomily gripping lyrics, but I think it's best just to give an example - the video of "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" - to check out below. Also, visit the band on MySpace to hear more!