Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: 5. Florence + the Machine's "Lungs"

5. Florence + The Machine “Lungs”

When you talk about Florence Welch, vocalist and leader of the collaborative project Florence + the Machine, her soulful, indie-friendly voice always takes center stage in the discussion. Somewhere in between Annie Lennox and Lily Allen, Welsh is prodigiously talented. But what makes Florence + the Machine stand out amongst their post-Amy Winehouse, British female singer-songwriter peers, and what makes their debut album “Lungs” so special, is some of the richest, most nuanced and exciting songwriting anywhere in the current landscape of popular music.

“You hit me once/I hit you back/You gave a kick/I gave a slap/You smashed a plate over my head /Then I set fire to our bed” opens the masterful “Kiss With A Fist.” Propelled by a shady-but-fun, Stooges-like musical backdrop, Welsh recounts a mutually abusive relationship with a disturbing resignation. Powerful stuff, but not at all overshadowing the other fantastic compositions to be found here; particularly “Girl With One Eye,” a brilliant song that shuffles along, building momentum before exploding into a deeply emotional catharsis that enthralls and haunts in equal measure, and “Hurricane Drunk,” which boasts the best vocal performance on Lungs, with Welsh howling “I’m going out/Gonna drink myself to death” at the start of one of the albums most memorable choruses.

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