Tuesday, June 01, 2010

CD of the Day: ‘Lungs,’ Florence + the Machine (2009)

I bought this album at nearly the exact same moment I started reading Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” and the two works will forever be linked in my heart and mind.

If Rand’s main character in “Atlas,” Dagny Taggart, could sing, she would sound like Florence Welch. Welch conveys utter strength without sacrificing an ounce of her femininity. She’s imposing at times, vulnerable at others—and sometimes both at once. She can wail with the ardent strength of PJ Harvey (“Cosmic Love”), lilt with the grace of The Cranberries’ Dolores O'Riordan (“Howl”), or summon a ghostly power a.k.a. Amy Lee of Evanescence (“Drumming Song”). For “Girl with One Eye,” she even slinks into the persona of a lounge singer.

Stylistically, “Lungs” is just as diverse. Welch’s breakthrough hit, “Kiss With A Fist,” plays like a rambunctious White Stripes song, but it’s the only one like it on the record. Elsewhere she embraces New Age, blues, gospel, and plain ol' rock, while “Hurricane Drunk” is a deliciously twinkling pop song that should make Lily Allen jealous. The constant throughout is a steady diet of thunderous drumming, heard most notably on standout cuts like “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” and “Dog Days Are Over.”

Welch brings all of these various styles together perfectly on the album’s final track, a stirring rendition of “You’ve Got the Love.” Perhaps the best song on the album, it serves as both a reminder of where you’ve just been and why it was all so thrilling.

"Lungs" is easily one of my favorite albums of 2009.

Grade: A-

Favorite Track: “Hurricane Drunk”

Least Favorite Track: “I’m Not Calling You A Liar”

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