In 2011 Florence + The Machine gave us the immaculately produced “Ceremonials” that saw the whole world falling in love with the unique voice and vulnerability that she empowers. Four years on she has been through a break up, a breakdown, experimented with EDM and is ready to captivate you all over again. “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” is one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2015 and it does not fail to deliver. There was a lot of talk that this album would be increasingly stripped back compared to her previous records. However with gritty guitars, tribal beats and banging drums she sees herself redefining her indie pop/rock sound. The songs embody an essence of an early Stevie Nicks with the raw vulnerability of her vocals and the lingering heartache and emotion. “Ship To Wreck”, “Delilah”, “What Kind Of Man” and “Queen Of Peace” bring tribal beats, heavy guitar and infectious hooks that become instant favourites. Title track “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” boasts a big pop track with an orchestra feel with beautiful strings and percussion that captivates you completely.
The album is all about her vocals and she doesn’t let anyone forget that. Soaring with high notes and unleashing the inner soul and roots of her vocal ability you will have goosebumps from the raw power. Stripped back tracks “Various Storms & Saints”, “Long & Lost” highlight this and become very special moments on this record. While the folk/rock driven “Caught” could easily be mistaken for Fleetwood Mac with the humble organic sound and harmonies. The clear highlight from this album is the future hit “Third Eye”. It’s classic Florence + The Machine with a big hook, tribal beats and an unforgettable melody. The song is pure magic and will leave you completely dumbfounded. The epic gritty rock track “Mother” perfectly closes the album with something you quite didn’t expect from Ms Welch. The only song that I wasn’t captivated and entranced by was St. Jude. Compared to the other material on this record it was very underwhelming and didn’t have you feeling the emotions the other tracks did. Lyrically this album takes you on a journey and with lead single “What Kind Of Man” she tells a story of an indecisive man who did her wrong and the sadness the relationship brought her. “And with one kiss, you inspired a fire of devotion that lasted twenty years. What kind of man loves like this?”.
“How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” is a massive competitor for album of the year and with massive hooks, unforgettable harmonies and a collection of intimate and matured tracks this is undoubtedly her best album yet.