Bursting across the pond comes Florence and the Machine, and Lungs, an album as out of the box as it is echoingly beautiful.
Nary a female pop singer would admit that she writes her best songs drunk or hung over—with the exception of Amy Winehouse, perhaps. But that’s exactly what Florence Welch recently did. The 22-year-old South Londoner can afford to be brash: After being discovered in a club bathroom, she recently won Britain’s coveted Critic’s Choice Award without even a proper full-length album. On her Mercury Prize-nominated debut, Lungs, she definitely uses hers. The opening song, “Dog Days Are Over,” features handclaps and a choral call-and-response to Welch’s unhinged vocals. She gets support from her seven-piece backing band—dubbed the Machine—and its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink instrumentation (“harps, choirs, drums, and elevator shafts,” according to Welch). Lungs carries a hopeful tone, even when the darker edges of Flo’s pop and aluminum folk suggest otherwise. “Kiss With a Fist” is a somehow joyful anthem about domestic violence, and on “Between Two Lungs” she sings, “We are all too young to die,” a perfect message for any young, drunk songstress—and the rest of us, too.