Elvis said, “The image is one thing and the human being is another. It's very hard to live up to an image.” It’s a sentiment echoed by so many artists who have found themselves living in the shadow of a character they themselves created. And the Florence of Florence and The Machine casts a long shadow.
On 2009’s Lungs, she was turned to gold by King Midas and made impermeable by fame. On 2012’s Ceremonials she burned a kingdom to the ground and cut out her own heart. But here, we catch a glimpse of Florence at her most human - ever noble and proud, but made weak at the hand of love.
She is still a queen, a summoner of saints and a presence to be reckoned with. And sonically Welch is not quite ready to let fall the wall of sound that has served her for so long, though there are moments when she does. She’s accompanied by just a guitar and strings on ‘Various Storms and Saints’, while a mournful organ, muted horns and thudding heartbeat guide ‘St Jude’.
Florence and The Machine’s third album shows Florence part way through a descent to earth, floating in a sky that is Big, Blue and Beautiful - but perhaps not yet sure if the way forward is up or down.
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