The best music almost always comes from strife. No matter the outcome, the writer had to start with a blow to the heart to travel to the happiness or sadness. Enter Florence Welch who at 23 seems to have mastered the art of intense bitterness. Her cathartic artistic form is anger — perfect for her gigantic voice resembling Toni Childs in indignity and Feist in quirkiness. QXYZAXJUAQQM
One of the many appealing aspects of Lungs is its defiance of expectation. It starts off with a song called “Dog Days Are Over” which sounds happy enough until you realize the woman Florence is singing about is scared of her joy. “Leave all your loving, your loving behind/You can’t carry it with you if you want to survive,” making the song as much a song of celebration as much of one of denial.
This duplicity is played out throughout. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” explores love as a gift and a sacrifice (“Who is the lamb and who is the knife?”) as it swirls around pagan descriptions and sounds. The immediately likable “Kiss With A Fist” takes the idea to violent extremes as she describes what hopefully wasn’t that injuring of a fight she had with the man whose actions are the inspiration of most of the album.
“Hurricane Drunk” is all about finding him with another woman. “I’m going out/I’m going to drink myself to death.” As with most of her songs she throws in a moment of hope showing a depth and maturity in exposing the multitude of emotions she was experiencing: “But I like to think at least things can’t get any worse.” The exploration becomes extremely dark in “Girl With One Eye” as Florence imagines taking the girl she has just seen kiss her man and cutting out her eye to take home to watch “it wither and die” all the while telling her to get her filthy fingers out of Florence’s pie.
Don’t worry. Lungs isn’t all malicious melancholy. Songs like “Cosmic Love” use beautiful atmospheric acoustics to tell the story of finding your way through love unexpected. And the album ends with a true sense of hope in the most radio friendly of songs here. “You’ve Got the Love” takes the over-the-top vocals, orchestrations and hook-laden melodies and combines them in a moment of forgiveness of all that has happened before.
Lungs can be overblown at times and Florence’s intensity may not be for everyone, but it is undeniably emotional. The hurt, the spite and the love — squashed and returned — are felt here in waves of palpable empathy. We’ve all at some point felt these situations in the same complexity as her cut-to-the-heart lyrics. Lungs is a celebration of almost everything that a relationship can be whether we welcome it or not.
“Dog Days Are Over”