Saturday, April 24, 2010
Take the Edge Off with Florence and the Machine
Without ways to distract myself from the irritations of the world, I'd probably end up popping a vein in my neck and dying a messy, agonizing death. Alcoholism runs rampant in my family, so booze isn't an option. That's why I'm always keeping an eye out for things to reduce my heart rate a bit, and I wouldn't be much of a guy if I didn't share them with you to enjoy as well.
Florence and the Machine is the name given to artist Florence Welch and her varying array of supporting musicians. I first heard about Florence and the Machine through an interview Welch did on NPR. Now, for those of you who would automatically dismiss the hipster crap they usually throw at you on public radio, please know that usually I am the exact same way. But as I listened to the interview (which you can catch here) I found myself intrigued by this quiet little British girl talking about her time playing music at old, abandoned supermarkets that had been taken over by squatters.
So later on at home I went to Pandora's website to see if they had any Florence and the Machine in their database, and sure enough they did. The first song that played was "Cosmic Love," and within two minutes I was completely sucked in. Welch's voice is that perfect mix of melodic talent combined with guttural passion that gets me every time. She actually reminds me of a punk rock version of Enya, of whom I'm also a big fan. Snicker all you want but as I said I'm always looking for things to calm me down and Enya is nothing if not calming. Welch's style, however, takes Enya's soothing melody and backs it up with a hefty dose of balls, especially in "Cosmic Love." By the third round of the chorus, Welch is practically screaming the lyrics, but her voice still has the same beauty and femininity as when she quietly talks during an interview.
Perhaps the most impressing aspect of Florence and the Machine is that their first album, Lungs, is the rare album that I can listen to from start to finish. Usually, I will only be interested in one or two songs on an album, even from my favorite bands, but that's not the case with Lungs. Obviously, there are songs that I like more than others. "Cosmic Love" is definitely my favorite, "Dog Days Are Over" is a great song to listen to while running, and "Kiss With a Fist" is great if you just want something to bounce your head to. But honestly, there is not one song on the album that I would call a dud. And I think a lot of that has to do with Welch's voice. I don't have anywhere near the musical background to say whether or not she's actually a good lyricist or even a good musician (she, in fact, claims to be a terrible musician). But her voice is so damn haunting that I could probably listen her sing about a list of groceries.
Now, apparently Lungs has been around since July of last year, and Florence and the Machine has had gigs on Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman, so I may be late to the party on this one. But if you haven't heard of Florence and the Machine, do yourself a favor and give a listen to the song below, and I'm guessing you'll be downloading the rest of the album and looking forward to their next album due out in 2011. And if this does turn out to be the first time you've heard them, I expect a thank you.