Sunday 18 September 2011

Review: Florence + the machine, "What The Water Gave Me" and "Shake It Out"

I am really glad to hear some new music from Florence + the Machine. Her last release, Lungs, was pretty close to musical perfection, so I was really eager to hear what the next musical instalment form the singer would bring. Two new tunes from the new album, Ceremonials, have hit the web in the form of "buzz track" What The Water Gave Me and the albums actual first single Shake it out.

What the Water Gave Me: What the Water gave me shows the growth that has taken place since the last album. Though the music is still grandiose and avant garde, the youthful exuberance of Lungs seems to have mellowed, giving rise to a more focused, darker sound that has a more mature feel than her previous work.

What the Water Gave me was produced by Paul Epworth, but was written solely by Florence Welch. At a live show in California, the singer explained the origin of the song;
"It's a song for the water, because in music and art what I'm really interested in are the things that are overwhelming. The ocean seems to me to be nature's great overwhelmer. When I was writing this song I was thinking a lot about all those people who've lost their lives in vain attempts to save their loved ones from drowning. It's about water in all forms and all bodies. It's about a lot of things; Virginia Woolf creeps into it, and of course Frida Kahlo, whose painfully beautiful painting gave me the title."

Along with her lyricism and the sound, Florence's vocal delivery also seems to have grown in her time away. Previously, her delivery was theatrical, melodramatic and somewhat unpolished, with a lack of restraint when it came to the chest voice However, What the Water Gave Me hints at the singer having, as you would imagine, refined her technique, resulting in Florence's nuanced, multifaceted voice now being allowed to shine for its delicacy, oppose to it's steely ferocity.

Rating 4/5

Shake It Out:
The first single from the new album, Shake It Out, has Florence singing about a breakup- as was the case for much of Lungs- but more specifically the difficulty involved with getting over and moving on from one. Her poetic lyrics refer to the "devil" of the relationship still being on her back, and to move on she makes a concious decision to bury the love she still feels under the "pasture" that the relationship has been put out to. To insure that this is a successful severing of the old attachment she also makes a decision to cut out her "graceless heart" to "restart" her ability to love. It's a graphic and disturbing image that is heavily cushioned and disguised by the beautiful delivery. If you want a simpler understanding of the song think an avant garde version of Mariah Carey's Shake It Off

Shake It Out starts simply with an organ and Florence duetting mournfully, but that is quickly built upon by the introduction of a strong drum line and a chorus of Florences that give the song a contrasting fullness and power that remains thereafter. Surprisingly, Florence's trademark harp is absent on the new song but the song is no less decadent for it. Besides it would have had a hard time competing with the driving force that is that drums on the song.

Shake It Out is a beautiful song but it does leave me wondering if it was a good choice for a lead single, feeling more like the middle of a book than the beginning of a new one to me. However, with Ceremonials being said to include synth's and inspiration from Rn b, this may just be a clever plan to ease fans into a new sound that- according to The Guardian- has it's eyes set on the American market.

Rating 3.5/5


  1. I love Florence + The Machine and this site brought them to my realization. Anyway, I need to listen to "What the Water Gave Me" a few more times but I loved "Shake it Out" immediately.

  2. Hey hannah! Glad to have been able to bring her to your attention. She is pretty amazing. :D