Florence Welch and her band The Machine released their debut album “Lungs” in 2009. Since its release, the album has received over 10 awards internationally.
Welch’s break up with a boyfriend fueled much of the writing process for the album.
‘When you’re in that place, it’s good to have something to do because otherwise you’d get really self-destructive,” said Welch in an interview with Now Magazine.
One of the unique characteristics of the sound of the album is Welch’s vocals. She doesn’t sound like anyone else, and it is very refreshing. Ears can get bored of hearing the same over-produced-teen-pop vocals.
The album opens with the track “Dog Days are Over,” which begins with a ukulele softly strumming chords.
The track is a good introduction to the overall sound of the album, soft, but punctuated with moments of intensity and grandeur provided by drums, hand, claps, tambourines; and of course, Welch’s swooning vocals.
The lyrics of “Howl” are very poetic, if not disturbing, and describe a woman’s transformation into a werewolf, after being damaged by an ex-lover.
“Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers, starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters,” sings Welch.
The very next track “Kiss With a Fist,” features Welch and company departing from the usual soaring-vocals-and-reverby-guitars, and exchanging it with a spunky rough-and-tumble romp about domestic violence.
“Cosmic Love” is the pinnacle of the album. The drums beat loudly, the guitars create a beautiful platform for the vocals. Welch’s vocals almost sound tribal on the chorus as she sings:
“The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out. You have left me in the dark. Now dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight. In the shadow of your heart.”
There is something about the track that just pulls the listener in. There is something much grander than ourselves going on here, and we want to be a part of it.
Compositionally, the album comes to a climax with “Blinding,” but it doesn’t have quite the same emotional pull as “Cosmic Love.”
The last song “Falling” is a great last song. The mood and feeling makes you think credits should be rolling.
Overall, there isn’t much of a flow from one song to the next. Each sounds like its own little world, without much that holds them together, save for Welch’s vocals.
Although many of the songs sound similar as far as instrumentation is concerned, the critical listener would find much to take from each song.
Lyrically, each song is very unique, even if the content is a bit dark and morbid.
Even so, none of the songs sound immature or whiny. They sound sincere. A snapshot of Welch’s life and the struggles she has been through.