What The Water Gave Me – Florence + the Machine

7 Sep

Florence + the Machine: Ophelia meets Lady of Shalott

So it’s Autumn and there’s suddenly plenty of female artists to talk about. Yeah I know we’ve all been mad with Adele fever for the last few months (and quite rightly so), but now perhaps its time to just start loosening our grip on the CD case of 21 (CDs being very retro by this stage). Once we’ve managed this feat, metaphorically for many most likely, we might be able to turn our attention to Florence + the Machine and others who are here to sing out the end of 2011. It is perhaps far too crude to call  the red-head the music equivalent of Marmite, a title which doesn’t quite take into account the singer’s abilities and influence in the past few years. She has quickly risen to become one of the most prominent of our female cohort, and Beyoncé recently said that the London singer was the inspiration for her album 4. All this on the back of just one album, albeit a stunning and almost flawless album of which every song was pitched at single release material level. So what is her secret? More to the point: will she destroy everything she has built with her second album release? Well hopefully this will calm your fears. No. When an artist approaches a new album it is has to be in some small way, adapt or die. That is to say you have to show some sort of movement forward towards introducing a texture to your music which makes it just as exciting and groundbreaking as the last. This has to be achieved while remaining recognizably you in the DNA of the tune, in short it’s not an easy thing to do well. A few humbly offered examples might include the Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay, who have both evolved their sound into something different and exciting with each release.

What The Water Gave Me is only an early release from an album expected in November, so this might come as slightly premature but I think we can all relax. To reduce it to a simple check list would be crass… but I’m going to do it anyway:

Emotionally aware and image filled lyrics (Check)

Distinctive space-filling vocals (Check)

Fantastic multifaceted tune (Check)

Harp (Check)

So what’s new? What’s the progression? Well the inspiration for this particular tune is meant to be about capturing the feeling of being overwhelmed (with water in this case). Welch said she thought about people dying while trying to save loved ones. For me one of the images to come to mind is the opening scene from The Hours in which a woman walks into a river, her dressing gown pockets full of stones while the water reflects the honey sun. But it is sure to say that these lyrics once again return to Welch’s exploration of death and life, and the balance and juxtaposition between the two. The tune though feels more gritty and more rough textured, and with the welcome addition of what sounds like a rock organ, there is this balance between control and chaos. So early signs indicate that this is both going to be a truly recognisable Florence and the Machine album and also a progression to a sound which is perhaps more complex than her previous work. You’ll have to wait for the rest of the album but this early release is definitely worth a listen and if only for perhaps the preparation of Florence Fever in a few months. Personally I cannot wait.

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