Florence & The Machine “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” (Island Records, 2015)

Powerhouse vocals wrapped in emotion, explosive and dangerous, yet pained and fragile–Florence Welch has set the bar high for female artists since her arrival on the scene in 2007, and continues to do so well into 2015 with the release of “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”. She has the kind of stage presence that any female front-woman envies: powerful and in command, but graceful and mysterious– full of magic & electricity. florence and the machine

While this album doesn’t seem to feature the same reckless abandon and raw emotion that is shown on 2008’s well-crafted “Lungs”, and the strong follow-up release of “Ceremonials” in 2011, her famous whipping, soaring vocals come through in very sporadic and fleeting moments throughout this most recent album. The overall tone of the writing often feels like its foundations are too weak to hold her vocals and emotion properly, often resulting in lacklustre delivery. Although, this could be a reflection of a more refined, older & wiser Florence, a little more subdued and a little more comfortable.

Radio-friendly pop writing and catchy melodies heard on “Third Eye”, “Ship to Wreck” & “Hiding” unfortunately sound like filler standing next to the stronger, bolder tracks on the album, that feature that classic ‘Flo’ sound– “What Kind of Man”, “Various Storms & Saints” & “Mother”. Florence & The Machine has a huge presence in the festival scene, and will benefit greatly from these infectious tunes, offering so much for the crowds to grasp onto.

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All in all, this album will bring Florence & The Machine to a much more accessible level for many listeners, but perhaps the radio-friendly ‘cage’ isn’t the best place for a voice and talent of this wild nature; it should be free to roam every emotional & creative plane it desires…

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–Kalyn