June 3, 2015

[REVIEW] How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful ♥

THE TIME HAS COME. Florence, along with her glorious machine, released their third album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful earlier this week (June 1st- UK Release, June 2nd- US Release). I can tell you, it's causing quite a stir among the Flows; her utterly devoted fan base who thrives on any information, music, or news Florence related, and considers the first album listen a sacred experience (or is that just me?).

I would like to give you some idea of how long I've been waiting for this, but I cannot provide such information. Florence has miraculous timing, both lyrically and emotionally, when it comes to releasing her new material. I always seem to align beautifully with what she's trying to convey within her songs. The timing is almost essential to ensure my well-being. If you have ever read this blog, or talked to me for about 45 seconds, you know that I have some history with Florence. With all of her albums, I can remember the first time I heard them all, very clearly. That first listen is extremely important to me.

We all knew this album would be a little different. We knew she wanted to use horns, we knew she wanted a big sound, we just weren't sure in what form we'd be getting that in. Her voice, is obviously the most essential instrument here, it always has been (don't tell Tom...). We were given 'What Kind of Man' a couple months ago as a lovely introduction to this album; a song that, by the end, stirs up quite a bit of energy, and is delivered in an almost angry manner that holds a bucket full of emotion and bitterness. You knew that her vibe was changing, but in the right way, a lovely progression for a lovely artist.

'What Kind of Man'

Then came along 'Ship To Wreck' which immediately piqued my interest. It was very different from the first single. You could hear the despair and contemplation of her past actions coated thick with musicality, and portrayed in a cheery way that made you long for hearing it at a festival (I'm looking at you, Lollapalooza). This is highway music. This makes you want to cruise past all of your emotions and just get to the place you want to be, past the questioning, past the regret. 'Delilah' brought another round of fun to the singles that were released, similar to 'Ship To Wreck', but still ringing true to that tinge of anger we hear in 'What Kind of Man', but this one holds more realization. I feel this track rings so true to any girl who's ever waited around and put things aside in the name of getting what she wants from the man she's after. In this instance, it's that phone call you keep checking your phone to see if you missed, that response or answer you're longing for.

'Ship To Wreck'


In my eyes, Florence can do no wrong. This album, as a whole, is absolutely fantastic. I feel like we have some of the same Florence we've always had, but with distinct variations that give this album, and Florence, a stronger presence. Her look has toned down in certain elements, she almost has this raw approach to the music she's creating right now, and I love it. Every time I see her lately, I just get a major David Bowie/Patti Smith vibe from her. You can see influences from Patti and PJ in this one, but to me, she will always be able to hold her own without much comparison. She's always embraced anger and rocky emotions in her music, making the melancholy moments seem almost magical through her lyrics and ability to emulate that emotion through her vocals. There are certain songs that really exhibit her vocal ability as we hear trails of her voice gliding along beautifully on the high notes, an almost dreamy effect. Her albums always have a lovely range of those softer, sweeter songs, mixed in with songs that engulf you whole and leave you with a reaction that just makes you want to jump around a bit, and release whatever strife is stirring about inside.

I'd have to say, after giving this about 7-8 full run-throughs at this point (first listen for me was yesterday morning) that my favorite songs, besides the early releases, which include 'What Kind of Man', 'Delilah', 'Ship To Wreck', and 'St. Jude', because I love them all, would have to be 'Hiding (Bonus Track)' and 'Mother'. The former has such a gorgeous sound to it, it's so sad, but perhaps hits me the most. 'Mother' has so much strength embedded within, it almost has a gospel effect. But let me tell you, 'Which Witch' is phenomenal and carries a different vibe that isn't your typical Florence, but it completely works. It almost has a tribal effect or something you'd hear at some sort of religious induction ceremony (you get that feeling at the end). It absolutely takes me each time I hear it. The title track, 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful' is also, well, beautiful. The use of the horns in this song give it a majestic presence. A presence that lets you know that the soundtrack for summer emotions reside within this album. The song favorites will obviously change over the course of time, and each some will have it's own way of hitting me as time progresses. They will move me in ways I cannot quite explain.

I am so over the moon that it is finally here and that I love it all the way through. I knew that I would, but the possibility of not loving it as much as past material is always a bit scary. I'd love to know what you guys are thinking about this album and your favorite tracks. Of course, when it comes to Florence, I always have more to say, but this is where I stand right now.

She nailed it yet again, head on. Thank you, Florence. Thank you SO much. Xx