Story by Abigale Racine
How beautiful is Florence and the Machine’s latest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful? ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL.
Anyone familiar with British songstress Florence Welch understands that her decadent stage presence and haunting vocals cannot match any other performer of our generation.
Instinctively, something tells me that Welch would never straddle a giant hot dog or shoot whipped cream out of her brassiere. She’s much too classy to engage in such debauchery on-stage.
While in the past, Welch has channeled a Stevie Nicks-like stage presence, donning elaborate costumes and delivering powerhouse performances, she tones it down with How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, and introduces audiences to a more sensitive, insecure side of her artistic, creative soul.
Welch and her band have still produced a stellar record with their third studio album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, recently released on Friday, May 29. Fans have eagerly anticipate this release, waiting nearly three-and-a-half years for this album, produced by Markus Darvs, famous for his affiliation with Björk and her 1997 album Homogenic.
In an interview with New Zealand Zane Lowe, Welch revealed that she had, “a bit of a nervous breakdown, I was spiraling a bit. I wasn’t making myself happy. I wasn’t stable.”
The result of this dark time period? This tragically beautiful album, staring 11 crafted tracks.
Opening with the track “Ship to Wreck”, a song that explores weaknesses within a relationship and self-destruction, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful opens with a bang. Welch wails on the track, “Did I drink too much? Am I losing touch? Did I build this ship to wreck?”
The lyrics featured on How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful remain as metaphorical-heavy and fantastic as the band’s two previous albums. However, there is a clear distinction, as the indie-rock band’s use of the harp is gone; a distinction that had made Florence and the Machine a household name back in 2007. One could determine that the “Dog Days Are Over.”
Despite the disappearance of the harp, the band’s music remains as enchanting and moody as ever. An evident example of this is the track, “St. Jude”, as Welch compares a lover to the Patron Saint of Lost Causes. Ouch.
However, the standout song on the album is the first single released, the rock-heavy and sultry song “What Kind of Man.”
With its slow introduction, Welch’s hypnotizing voice captivates you until a killer guitar solo kicks in, full-throttle. She questions, “And with one kiss. You inspired a fire of devotion that lasts for twenty years. What kind of man loves like this?”
If there is one album that deserves a serious listen this summer solstice, it’s safe to say that How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is worth a try.
Abigale Racine is a senior at studying English with a focus in journalism. She is the Culture Editor of The Saint and does some freelance work on the side when she isn’t slaving away, making Frappuccino’s for a living.