As you might have noticed from our fairly constant and excited yabbering on about it, Florence + The Machine release their new album ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’ on June 1. The Machine are a deeply important part of Florence Welch’s process and live show – from musical collaborator Isabella Summers’ co-writes and keyboards to guitarist Rob Ackroyd, who’s been carrying the injured singer on and off stage over the past month or so. But it’s Welch alone who crafts her deeply poetic, emotive and mystical lyrics – such a huge part of their magnetic pull.
We’ve had the new LP on repeats and scoured ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ to find the most revealing lines and work out where Florence’s head is at – not to forget her heart and soul – three albums into her stellar career.
“Don’t touch the sleeping pills/They mess with my head” – ‘Ship To Wreck’
The opening line on the first song of the new album, the significance and potency of this lyric cannot be underplayed. Here Florence casts off anything which might dull her senses, even if she’s bloody knackered and what she really needs right now is a good night’s sleep. Instead, she’s saying what we’re getting on this LP is pure unadulterated Flo – untampered by chemicals and modern science. The real deal, in other words.
“You do such damage/How do you manage/Trying to crawl in back for more” – ‘What Kind of Man’
It’s not that Florence gets heartbroken more than anyone else, but she certainly seems to be happier about discussing it than the rest of us. On the bombastic first track to be released from the album, she’s talking directly to the latest cad to batter her emotions. And the bastard is trying to do it all over again! The cheek!
“Suddenly I’m overcome/Dissolving like the setting sun” – ‘Queen of Peace’
More in touch with her feelings than an east London yoga teacher on a juice cleanse, this confession from Florence shouldn’t come as a surprise. In a typically poetic fashion, her breakdown is like the sunset, rather than most of our wobbly turns, which resemble a rhino in a skip vomiting three day old take-away from its eyes.
“Between a crucifix and the Hollywood sign/We decided to get hurt/Now there’s a few things we have to burn/Set our hearts ablaze” – ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’
Florence has already spoken about the album’s title track being inspired by the simultaneously urban and pastoral view of the Los Angeles skyline. Here she reveals that it’s not just geography, but a mutually destructive relationship that’s behind the song’s sultry slow burn.
“I’m in the throes of you/Somewhere in the belly of the beast” – ‘Various Storms and Saints’
However much of a plonker this chap Florence is singing about seems to be, she just can’t shake him from her life – but it sounds like she doesn’t want to either. Oh, what a cruel bind love can be.
“I am teaching myself how to be free” – ‘Various Storms and Saints’
It’s on ‘Various Storms and Saints’ that Florence makes a conscious decision to cut ties with the man who’s brining her down. Gleefully, she admits that it’s a process that only she can guide herself through…
“Another conversation with no destination/Another battle never won” – ‘St Jude’
By the end of the album, Florence is still mulling over her disastrous relationship, pretty much conceding it was a total waste of time. Au contraire Flo – without all of that doomed romance your third album might not have been the total corker it is.
“‘Cos I’m gonna be free and I’m gonna be fine/Maybe not tonight” – ‘Delilah’
…But on ‘Delilah’ it seems like all her good work has been for nothing, as she falls back into self-destructive ways. If it’s only for one night though, we can forgive her, right? We all muck up sometimes, especially after a few tots of sherry.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do/To try and keep from calling you” – ‘Caught’
She’s staying strong! She’s not calling him! So proud of you, Flo. Here’s hoping there’s no sneaky texting. Or Whatsapping. Or Skypeing. Or Facebook messaging. Or submitting fake CVs to his LinkedIn page and pretending that yes, she definitely knows how to use Photoshop to a professional level and is fluent in Latvian.
“There’s a hole where your heart lies/And I can see it with my third eye” – ‘Third Eye’
Florence has summoned her extrasensory powers to divine the cause of this dude’s dickdom and it turns out there’s a reason he was such a pain – he doesn’t have a heart. Fingers crossed he doesn’t go hassling any more of the UK’s preeminent chamber-pop singer-songwriters, or that if he does, they also get some excellent songs out of it.