Florence & The Machine – Lungs
Of all the acts hyped to the hilt come January 2009, Florence and her Machine seemed the least likely to finish the year with one of the biggest selling debuts. If early single Kiss With A Fist was all playful petulance, the newer songs on Lungs show that playful spirit had been channelled into gorgeously OTT epics that mixed strings, choirs, pounding drums, fluttering harps and, if you listen carefully, a kitchen sink solo. It is pop turned up to eleven, with everything pushed to the front to create a wall of sound so strong it often threatens to overwhelm the songs. It’s this tension that makes ‘Cosmic Love’ or ‘Howl’ so powerful, as if they’re about to implode at any minute. Riding the crest of the sonic wave is Florence herself, the owner of a voice so swollen with emotion it’s almost painful to listen to her dissect and rebuild relationships in each song. Credit must also go to producers Paul Epworth and James Ford who somehow manage to keep the various strands together, making sure the songs themselves remain the key ingredient. Lungs is momentous not just because it lives up to the hype, but because it has the feel of a timeless record, one that can’t be simply dismissed as ‘the sound of 2009’. It’s more than that.
Key track: ‘Drumming’