Back in 2008/9 I had begun to notice with some frustration that there were very few distinctive female voices in mainstream new music. They all seemed to be cookie cutter X-Factor victims or generic dance tune accompaniment in their sound. Well, it wasn’t long until my ears found the candy they were seeking. Almost as soon as I had started airing my disdain at the lack of the modern day Stevie Nicks or Kate Bush – Florence Welch came exploding through the airwaves with the then-mind-melting cacophony of Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up). Further to this I soon looked a fool for raising the issue as La Roux, Little Boots, Ellie Goulding and others each joined in on the charts.
What an opening salvo they appeared with too. Lungs is packed with tracks that still to this day you could reasonably expect to hear in any given live show. From the building excitement of Dog Days are Over to the punchy, punk energy of Kiss with a Fist via the expansive majesty of Rabbit Heart. The track that caught me off guard as brilliant but forgotten on a re-listen for this review was Drumming Song. Between these notable highlights though, Howl, I’m Not Calling You A Liar, Girl With One Eye and Cosmic Love sit nonchalantly teasing other artists that they didn’t write them.
Oh wait, am I missing something? Of course, that was all just the bedrock for the massive interstellar, track-theft version of You’ve Got The Love. Miss Welch, I think you owe Candi Staton an apology young lady! This version threw her into all the clubs, every TV montage and every sports stadium around the world. Were it not for the arsenal behind it, she would have risked one-hit-wonder status. That idea may seem laughable 4 albums and several major festival headlines later but that is the reality had the rest of the album not been as strong as it is and if it wasn’t followed up by Confessions – adding depth and continued credibility to her catalogue and winning awards aplenty. No second album syndrome, no hesitation or revealing that everything was stacked up front. Music finally had a new queen worthy of the crown.
For those intrigued, you can find Lungs on your streaming service or buy the forthcoming 10th anniversary edition. However, this reviewer recommends the live experience whole-heartedly. I caught her when she stepped up at Glasto when Dave Grohl broke his leg where she showed she should have been headlining anyway and then took her top off as she ran off the stage in total ecstasy at what had just happened. Then I saw her again supporting the Rolling Stones last year. If you can get down to Hyde Park in a couple of weeks, you will not regret it.
(Originally published 4 July 2019)