FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE, self-described as “Catastrophe choir crash”, were hotly tipped for 2009 from early on last year. Winning themselves a Brit award before even having finalised an album, the pressure was on for them to produce something spectacular. But did they live up to expectations?

Their debut album aptly titled ‘Lungs’ is a breath of fresh air on the music scene. Quite a step from all the electro 80’s influenced pop that seems to be so popular at the moment, ‘Lungs’ is quite hard to categorize. The pop-rock of ‘Kiss With a Fist’ is quite a contrast to the rest of the songs on the album, all of which have a more folk/blues/indie feel to them. One of Florence Welch’s many inspirations is Gospel choir music, and this certainly shines through on the album. A choir of overlapping Florence’s build up suspense and urgency in ‘Howl’, and then project a mystical & magical feel in ‘Cosmic Love’. The album stays true to the band’s live style, using instruments in a way that enhances Welch’s naturally strong voice, meaning that none of their magical stage presence is lot. ‘Lungs’ is a very good representation of their live shows. Many of the songs on the album, ‘My Boy Builds Coffins’, ‘Girl With One Eye’, ‘Howl’ and ‘Blinding’ have quite gothic influences, the lyrics are quite dark, but the songs themselves are powerful and you can hear the real emotion coming through. In contrast, ‘Drumming Song’ and ‘Hurricane Drunk’ are more light-hearted and dreamy songs, however the lyrics are still as emotional and meaningful as the other tracks on the album. The final track on the album ‘You’ve Got The Love’ is a cover of the original hit by Candi Staton, a track which the band often end their live performances with and which featured as a B-side on the release of ‘Dog Days Are Over’. It is quite a surprise that they decided to put a cover on the album, but it seems the track is important to Florence, and it finishes the album off brilliantly, just as it does for her live shows.

If you’ve heard all the hype about Florence and The Machine, but haven’t quite got around to listening to their music, then I would definitely recommend you take a listen. And be prepared to be blown away by the Lungs of Florence Welch.

Louise Rebecca Thomas