Florence + the Machine’s newest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, released June 2, takes a step away from the grand production of her previous two albums, leaving some people a little let down. This editor is not one of those people. Some may call me bias for backing a woman whose vocal talents could single handedly give her throne of Westeros or defeat the Dark Lord without even using a wand. But, the title of the album let’s everyone know exactly what they are in for. It is big. It is blue. It is beautiful. F
The album starts of with an in your face summer anthem. Perfect for riding around in the car with the windows down and letting the Colorado air invade your lungs, “Ship to Wreck” takes us back to the high energy and fast paced beats from her first album. But don’t let the beat fool you; the song introduces you to the ongoing theme of heartbreak. The lyrics lets us into her devastating mindset with: “Good God, under starry skies we are lost,” she sings. “And into the breach we got tossed, and the water’s coming in fast.”
The rest of the album is just as gut wrenching, and looking at track titles such as “What Kind of Man,” “Various Storms & Saints” and “St Jude,” who is the patron saint of impossible causes in the Christian faith, let listeners know what they are in for. Florence’s success hasn’t transferred over into her love life.
The album isn’t as upbeat as the first track. Florence + the Machine strays away from the harps and orchestra sounds from her first two albums and into a classic rock sound mixed with some soul.
The always-phenomenal vocals are accompanied by polished and mature musicianship. The theatrics and dramatics from the first two albums are toned down, and most of the tracks are slower. Admittedly, there were points in the album that I was aching for a bit more grandness, but it fades into the background as the story being told is strong on its own.
This album gives us an emotional, raw and tragic Florence. A standout on the album is the slow, serene and painful “Various Storms & Saints.” It’s a song to listen to as your laying in bed on a Sunday morning, contemplating your love life, especially those loves coming to an end. She sings: “I know you’re bleeding, but you’ll be okay.
Hold on to your heart, you’ll keep it safe.”
The entire album isn’t mellow. Following “Various Storms & Saints” is “Delilah,” a song focusing on getting over the lost loves on a more positive note. It happens once again a couple tracks later with “Third Eye,” another song to blare with your windows down and letting every bad thought seep out of your pores and left along the freeway.
The album ends on a soulful note with “Mother,” allowing Florence to hit listeners with the vocals we’ve waited four years to hear. It’s strong, and leaves us wanting more. Much more.