Album Review: Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

“She’s fragile and she’s ferocious”

The dream world, a creation made of myth and melody. She is its mother, its creator; the designer of sun and sky, of storms and seas. She is the orchestra and conductor too; the summoner of harmonious hymns and the mistress of magnificent melodies.

She will take you through the looking-glass and into a world of make-believe; a Technicolor wonderland where fantastical beasts howl in the streets and rabbit hearted girls shed their skin.

She lives amongst them, with the fairies in the forests, amongst the demons in the waves. She is their queen, their guardian; the designer of shadows and stars, of storms and seas. She is the conductor and orchestra too; the author of vivacious anthems and the inventor of luscious strains. She cares for them and keeps them. She holds them in her lungs and tattoos them onto her skin.

Still, darkness creeps in, cutting heart-lines and lifelines, crushing her dream in the palm of its hand.

She tries to hold on, but stumbles and falls as the ground beneath her feet gives way. The song can not save her. She is caught, caught in a love so lost it can never be found.

She must fight, fight to remove the shackles that enslave her. But it’s too late. A sacrifice needs to be made, a final exorcism performed. Only then will she be saved, only then will she be able to move on.

Yes, she knows what she must do.

The inventor, the creator offers blood and bone, transforming them into words, into music. She marries life, love, and melody. She leaves the fantasy for an alternate existence.

She rubs the dream from her eyes to discover a new big, blue, beautiful world.

– – –

She has buried the ghosts and she has put the birds back in their cage, but what Florence Welch has offered in exchange is even more ethereal and empowering. She has offered us her heart battered, bruised, and still beating. She has survived heartache and hardship to give us an album so emotionally satisfying it will permanently change the way we see our beloved and bewitching songstress.

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is, without a doubt, blessed with some of Florence’s most unique and unforgettable hymns.

They are songs you feel with your whole being, because they are a part of you, even if you didn’t know it. Like recognizing hidden pieces of your psyche, ones that you didn’t know existed until Florence introduced you. It’s as if your soul says, “Oh, there you are. I’ve been looking for you.”

These are songs that have the ability to alter us and inspire us, because Florence has had the courage to do something many of us can’t even dream of, that many of us only aspire to do. She has put it all on the page, her experiences, her romances, her relationships. She has set her life to song. She has mapped out every detail, every moment that gave her the ability to achieve self-acceptance and personal growth. We are seeing her, just her. Her words and her truth. Each song is a snapshot of a larger story. Her story.

The album may feel different from what we’re used to, because Florence isn’t the same. None of us are the same person that we were a year ago, or even a month ago.

We devoted ourselves to Florence because of an otherworldly, undeniably magical quality that possessed all that she sang and did. And she will always be that Flo. She will always be the Florence we fell in love with. She will always be the spirited nymph who jumps off stages and sings like thunder. Only now she’s more. Her voice is stronger, more refined. She is confidence personified. Realistic as the lyrics might be, the melodies are just as transcendental as ever. They’re timeless. They’re songs that will stay with you. Forever.

– – –

Cue the track by track review!

Ship to Wreck: To wrreeeeecckk! To wrreeeeecckk!

What Kind of Man: Welcome to the Church of Florence. How may we help you?

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful: I can’t get this song out of my head. HELP.

Queen of Peace: The string and brass line wreck me. The chorus slays me. 4 Stars.

Various Storms & Saints: When she calls out that last line, “Hold on to your heart,and her voice drifts off into the distance. It’s as if she couldn’t help it, she gave her heart away again. #beautiful #heartbreaking

Delilah: Each time I listen to it I have to do a little shimmy. I have to.

Long & Lost: Sultry and breathless, but with so much longing.

Caught: It may not have as much punch as the others, but the chorus is very catchy.

Third Eye: This song. THIS SONG! I want to wrap myself up in it and never leave. It’s really good. Really, really good.

St. Jude: I wrote a thing. Read it HERE

Mother: I see this song as Florence’s Tommy moment. She’s standing on top of the mountain, calling out into the void, broken and beat, but ultimately realizing everything’s going to be okay. She has survived. She has conquered.

Hiding: Everybody sing it with me! “Tell me I will be released/Not sure I can deal with this/Up all night again this week/Breaking things that I should keep.”

Make Up Your Mind: Before I make it up for you.

Which Witch: Dark and delicious. Another Flo classic.

Pure Feeling: Florence is a lyrical genius, end of discussion.

Conductor: “My heart is a concert hall and I filled it with you.”

Album Rating: A+

What did you think of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful? What’s your favorite track on the record? Do you like this new Flo era? Which video from the HB HB HB odyssey is your favorite so far? Tell me in the comments!

For more Kim the FanGirl follow the blog on Twitter @kimthefangirl and on Facebook

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Peggy Isaacs says:

    Bravo! I love love love this album. I’ve listened to nothing else since June 2nd. From beginning to end – it is a masterpiece.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. It’s a beautiful album and I absolutely adore it. I think it’s my favorite Flo album so far.

      Which songs are your favorites? 🙂

      1. Peggy Isaacs says:

        I almost feel like I love them all…Delilah is definitely a favorite…Ship to Wreck…St. Jude is so powerful, as is Various Storms & Saints…Hiding…I love them all. LOL. This is by far my favorite album, as well. So many emotions.

  2. Emma says:

    Beautifully written.

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