Album Review: Florence + The Machine – Lungs (Island Records)

Eleanor Careless 1 October 2009

Florence Welch has had plenty of attention this summer on the back of her Lungs, quite literally – for if there is one thing that powers both the album and her fame, it is her mighty bell-like tones.

Florence’s voice takes no prisoners and leaves little doubt as to what she is singing about. Such wise aphorisms as “The looking glass so shiny and new/ How quickly the glamour fades,” (“Rabbit Heart”) lose their own shine due to their uncompromising delivery. 

Emotive but often trite lyrics gain an immeasurable boost from the shimmering instrumentals and, of course, the Voice of Florence, which in “Dog Days” and “Rabbit Heart” soars thrillingly over a Gothic-Lewis Carroll-Kate Bush tapestry.

Despite these two frothy floral numbers, most of the remaining songs take on an apocalypse-now over-eyelinered quality beloved of the “Twilight generation”, with plenty of gouging of eyes and cosmic overkill.

Yet there is a believability to the hyperbolic screams of “Sweeter than heaven and hotter than hell” (“Drumming Song”), claims which Flo pulls off with conviction.

Notwithstanding its luscious sounds – carefully interspersed with barer moments – Lungs loses its grab after the opening pair of songs.  Unfortunately, it amounts to less of an album than a rag-bag series of tracks of varying quality, with not much in common apart from the lungs they are blasted from.

Eleanor Careless