Florence + The Machine, “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”

Florence-and-the-Machine_how-big-how-blue-how-beautiful_coverFlorence + The Machine
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
ISLAND
7/10

“What’s with the long face? Do you want more?” Florence Welch opens her third full-length as Florence + The Machine with “Ship to Wreck”—a strangely satisfying and upbeat song about nagging anxiety and gnawing self-doubt. “Did I drink too much? Am I losing touch? / Did I build a ship to wreck?” The honeymoon period is already over by the time How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful starts. But that’s exactly why Welch excels as one of today’s most influential singer-songwriters; she helps others understand that pain is temporary and, ultimately, only makes you stronger.

Within the eleven tracks that make up Welch’s latest album, the artist works through the rollercoaster ups-and-downs of a particularly awful heartbreak with powerful orchestration and poignant, thoughtful lyrics. In songs like “What Kind of Man” and “Third Eye,” she questions the humanity and the heart of her ex-partner, while tracks like “Long & Lost” and “Caught” find Welch trying to hold herself from getting back into an unfair relationship. Even in these fragile moments of lovesick weakness or when she’s exhausted and tired of fighting in general (“Queen of Peace,” “St. Jude”), there is an internal power that comes from Welch’s inimitable voice. She’s walked through the emotional fires and was baptized as a strong leader for the heartbroken everywhere.

It’s this gravity—and the honesty of her lyrics—that allows listeners to believe Welch as she looks to the horizon in “Various Storms and Saints” and sees the future: her life without the constant, crippling sadness. “I know it seems like forever / I know it seems like an age / But one day this will be over / I swear it’s not so far away,” she sings. We’ll follow you to the ends of the earth, Florence.

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