Review | Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

“Maybe I’ve always been more comfortable in chaos,” contemplates Florence Welch on new track St Jude.

Florence and the Machine have had a hectic few years riding the fickle waves of fame following the band’s first two albums. Florence decided to take a year off before recording her third album – a time for calm and relaxation – but as she told Radio One’s Zane Lowe, it was “a crash landing” and “nervous breakdown” that awaited her.

At an intimate gig at The Dome in Tufnell Park, north London – a venue the size of a village hall – the band showcased four new songs from their forthcoming album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (HBHBHB) – and it seems Florence and her machine have gone back to their roots.

Florence wanted her third album to be “earthier” and to “strip it back”, according to her interview with Lowe.

But her personality is drawn too much to the grandiose and maximalism. This yearning for the dramatic and raw displays of emotion can be heard on HBHBHB through the orchestra and sheer honesty in Florence’s lyrics.

What Kind of Man and HBHBHB were both accompanied by music videos on release – visualising Florence’s pain, loss and discovery, both within herself and her relationships.

This self-exploration can be found in her captivating, animalistic and childlike enthusiasm onstage.

St Jude, Florence explained on Radio One, is about storms, both physical and metaphorical: “All these storms kept following me around, real ones and imagined ones.”

Third Eye is a tribute to this pain – it’s Florence breaking through that sense of inner turmoil with optimism.

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is an album mapping her chaotic ups and downs – and its rawness and charm will capture you, if you let it.

Featured image courtesy of: NRK P3, Kim Erlandsen