Sound the trumpets – Florence + The Machine is back. After four years of anticipation and the band’s greatest endeavor of Ceremonials, a new era of Florence + The Machine has been born, delivering the most revealing, heartfelt, and raw music that the band has to date. How Big How Blue How Beautiful is the diary pages of Florence Welch’s time off, with it being a time of stubborn heart break and new revelation of life. The intricacies of her unique mind and the passion in her voice evoke a new sound for the band while combining some of their best elements. This third and essential album solidifies every skill that Florence has expressed, proving that her uniqueness to every genre is what will keep her impact significant in the music scene for years to come. As the title track celebrates in its inspiring instrumental sequence, this comeback is like no other.
The succeeding chapter of the spacious and regal Ceremonials takes fans by surprised if they weren’t used to the original rock roots of Florence + The Machine’s first album, Lungs. When the first hard-hitting single, “What Kind of Man”, dropped, its infectious rhythm and penetrating vocal intonation caught listeners off guard, but reeled them in with the personalizing effects of the powerful way she tells her story. The raw sounds she pulls from on How Big How Blue How Beautiful create a timeless essence to her music, especially on “Mother”, when slow and haunting tones collide into clashing instrumentals that encompass a theme of disappointing reality (“Every stone in this city keeps reminding me / Can you protect me from what I want? / The love I let in, it left me so lost”). This indie/alternative rock style to Florence’s music was left back on tracks like “Kiss With a First” on Lungs, so its revival on tracks like the upbeat “Delilah” and the hazy vibes of “Caught” become crucial to Florence’s growth. The dreamy vocal features of “Caught” aid listeners in losing themselves within the depth of the song, something Florence Welch has mastered since the beginning.
Florence + The Machine is gratefully revolved around their greatest and most present instrument: Welch’s gorgeous, booming voice. To fully understand what it means to use your voice as an instrument, listen to anything sung by the one and only Florence Welch. In How Big How Blue How Beautiful specifically, stripped down tracks like “Various Storms & Saints” and “Long & Lost” play alongside Welch’s voice, which travels from deep and brooding to high and angelic, evoking every emotion she wants you to feel. “Third Eye” is an anthem of self-love and acceptance rooted at Florence’s expressive lyrics almost shouting at you (“You are flesh and blood! / And you deserve to be loved and you deserve what you are given.”). Even the climax of this diverse album, “Queen of Peace”, is filled with Florence’s signature crescendos, supported by the glorious instrumental arrangement to create the fieriest and most passionate track of the album. The vivid and regal story telling of Ceremonials and the developed, up-tempo theme of How Big How Blue How Beautiful produce the epitome of this new album: escaping the darkness in life.
My personal admiration for Florence + The Machine has left me extremely satisfied with what the band has given us after four years of silence. I never thought Florence could get more unique than she already was, but How Big How Blue How Beautiful managed to find pure individuality within Florence + The Machine’s own discography – a complete rarity. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another four years for more of her magic.