In our day, music critics say that mainstream music is losing its meaning and its soul. To this, I'd like to say that not all music is lost to the sappy, raunchy, disingenuous lyrics and taiko-drum bass line that pour from the speakers of radio stations across America.
Looking across the Atlantic Ocean, meaning in lyrics and a new genre of music is found in the pop/experimental indie rock band Florence + the Machine. Some have compared Florence to a modern Kate Bush, with touches of Tom Waits' experimental sound and Nick Cave's emotional intensity. She's got that factor that few artists do these days -- her own style that cannot be described or copied.
When one first listens to Florence + the Machine, the music feels so honest and robust, it's enchanting, like seeing the sun for the first time. Although much can be read into the lyrics, according to the band's website, florenceandthemachine.net, her songs are simple : "Everything is about boys!" she laughs. "The whole album is about love -- and pain. People see my lyrics as crazy, but to me it's an honest, heartfelt album. I didn't set out to be wacky. I just want it to be emotive."
The lyrics in Florence and the Machine songs are imaginative and contain an overwhelming amount of imagery and poetic use of metaphors and illusions.
In my favorite song, "Blinding" -- from Florence's first album, "Lungs" -- images about feeling like a stranger, like one who just doesn't fit in, and an illusion to childhood fairy tales can be found: "Seems that I have been held, in some dreaming state, A tourist in the waking world, never quite awake. No kiss, no gentle word could wake me from this slumber, Until I realize that it was you who held me under."
"Shake It Out" from "Ceremonials," her new hit single, talks about dealing with her own problems and not just handing them away to any demon (demon being a vice like drinking or the like), even if it's not easy or what she's done before.
"And every demon wants his pound of flesh," the song goes, "but I like to keep some things to myself. I like to keep my issues drawn, It's always darkest before the dawn. And I've been a fool and I've been blind. I can never leave the past behind. I can see no way, I can see no way, I'm always dragging that horse around."
The listener will also hear the plethora of instruments that complement the vivid and emotional lyrics that come from this London area-based band. When the group first began in 2007, it included Florence Welch and Isabella "The Machine" Summers, with Welch singing and Summers playing keyboard and backup vocals. As the duo's sound and popularity grew, so did the number of band members.
To date, the band also includes Robert Ackroyd on guitar and backing vocals; Chris Hayden on drums, percussion and backing vocals; Mark Saunders on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Tom Monger on harp. One aspect of the band's sound that I love is that you're never sure if you're going to hear a harp, a string quartet or Florence going at a high note.
Among all the Richter-scale bass lines and whiney lyrics out there, there's a new artist with soulful, thoughtful music emerging onto the American music scene from across the pond. Florence + the Machine, with their meaningful lyrics, eclectic music and unique sound, are sure to be the new favorite British artist here in the Top of Utah.
Abby Payne is a senior at Bear River High School. When she's not singing, writing or talking a million miles an hour, you can always find her reading. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABBY PAYNE'S PLAYLIST
My Florence and the Machine playlist:
From the "Ceremonials" album
* "Shake it Out"
* "All This and Heaven Too"
* "Seven Devils"
* "No Light, No Light"
From the "Lungs" album
* "My Boy Builds Coffins"
* "Drumming Song"
* "Rabbit Heart"
From "Lungs: The B-Sides"
* "Heavy in Your Arms"
* "Hardest of Hearts"
Hear Florence + the Machine's "Shake It Out"