Florence & The Machine’s 2009 breakthrough Lungs brought a breath of fresh air in the new voice of Florence Welch, who deftly married indie-grandeur to electric rock. 2011 follow-up Ceremonials (QRO review) likewise played well, but felt a bit too much like Lungs 2.0. With How Big How Blue How Beautiful, the band manages to grow even more.
Just as the group is led by Welch’s presence, their albums are led by killer singles – “Dog Days Are Over” on Lungs, “Shake It Out” on Ceremonials. How has more than its fair share of such singles, with the engaging opener “Ship To Wreck”, the bold “What Kind of Man” with rock underpinnings following, and particularly later in the record with “Third Eye”, as big and beautiful as “Dog Days” or “Shake”. In between there is a mix of more big Welch – though it can feel a bit ‘standard’ for them at times – and the stripped down haunt (“Various Storms & Saints”), with “Delilah” nicely going from the latter into the former.
Topping charts across the world, it’s great that a sound like what Florence & The Machine are putting out is so well received – and still growing.