So many girls in the British indie/modern soul/singer-songwriter influx take a cue from Kate Bush, but Florence & The Machine (a.k.a. Florence Welch) is the only one doing it warts and all. Right down to the cheesy forest-and-fairy theatrics that make even the most devoted Bush fans cringe.
But Florence almost gets away with the dumb stuff because, like Bush, she doesn’t seem to give a fuck what we think. Lungs is an openly defiant (and often problematic) pop album, one that may not break any real ground in terms of genre but definitely turns the Lily Allen paradigm on its shoulder. Think 13 versions of Bush’s “Suspended In Gaffa”: not weird enough to lose airplay but not normal enough to land a background spot on The Hills. (Watch me eat crow if this happens.)
Lungs has some truly brilliant moments buried in its 13 tracks. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” is almost painfully good with its piercing build and yelling, chanting background vocals. “Howl” houses a geniously catchy synth melody in the chorus, and “Girl With One Eye” picks up a crooning red wine and cigarettes vibe; you can imagine Florence laid out on a piano for this one.
But the dumb stuff. Man, it’s just so dumb. The Sarah McLachlan-on-Broadway “I’m Not Calling You A Liar”. The stupidly named “Drumming Song”, which kicks off with, what else, a ton of drums. The interpretive dance vibe that swirls around every breakdown. All of it would be totally unforgivable if it weren’t for the fact that we often forgive Kate Bush the exact same things; the only difference is that Florence has yet to write something as stunning and poignant as “Army Dreamers” or “Pull Out The Pin”. Still, the best songs on Lungs are addictive enough that we may be able to let this Lilith Fair stuff slide. Maybe.