Tag Archives: Brit Pop

Reminder to Breathe

Finals are over!! It’s finally summer!! I should not be as stressed out as I am right now!! Regardless, it was super convenient that I took entertainment reporting and writing with the one and only Holly Gleason this semester, so I have a record review written for you already — and bonus: it’s been graded.

Album: Lungs
Artist: Florence + The Machine

Lungs

Atmospheric might be one adjective you could use to describe Florence + The Machine’s debut; forceful, another. Frontwoman Florence Welch shows her fantastical side on Lungs, and she has enough talent to make it worth listening to. Her fantasy worlds create floating sensations, but her voice keeps listeners grounded as she sings about death, violence, and lonliness.

Though other female artists of her caliber prefer heavier sounds — Amy likes horns, Adele is partial to piano — Welch prefers harps, chimes and bells. The airiness found on Lungs could easily pull listeners out to a darker version of Neverland with Peter Pan, but use of heavy drums and Florence’s pipes keeps her audience on the ground wishing instead.

Lofty though the album may be, Welch’s lyrics tend to tell twisted stories. The Jack-White-esque single “Kiss With A Fist” is a stand out sonically, but it sets the lyrical tone. It seems easygoing enough, but lines like “A kick in the teeth is good for some, but a kiss with a fist is better than none,” make light of a tumultuous relationship as an angry Florence sings about mutual domestic violence.

The morose “Girl With One Eye” is an even better example. The track, the majority of which is comprised with a lone, echoing electric, deep drums and cymbal work, hovers above listeners as Welch slurs about cutting out some bitch’s eye for pissing her off.

Musically lighter tracks like “I’m Not Calling You A Liar” provide the perfect gust of wind to sustain wishful flight, though. Sleigh bells accompany light piano to open the track, and a harp joins in at the chorus to complete the atmospheric feel. In “My Boy Builds Coffins,” Welch crafts a dark story that brings listeners to a faraway fantasy world, while the band’s use of rolling guitar riffs, light harp runs and airy cymbal work creates the scenery.

Welch’s stories wouldn’t be so captivating if not for her voice, but that’s something Welch knows. The effect found on Lungs isn’t something many bands can craft successfully, but Florence + The Machine play to their strengths to create a strong debut.

Honorable Mentions: Dog Days Are Over, Howl, My Boy Builds Coffins, Hurricane Drunk

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70s? Try 80s.

Wow. Long time no see, or rather read. Or write. Whatever it is. I know I promised The 1975 last week. I also know I went AWOL. You see, there’s a story behind that. Once upon a time, a girl started her first semester in college, and one of her professors assigned three things that she had all semester to do. So naturally, she waited until the day before they were due to start/finish them. That day was last Wednesday. In my defense, one of them was about The 1975 concert, so I kinda wrote my blog without actually writing my blog.

I also know that I promised some other music for this week. It will be coming Saturday. I’m setting big goals for myself. After crushing my finals in a frenzy of stress, caffeine, and last-minute-study regrets that involved very little sleep, I’m ready to return to the blogosphere with a new and improved vigor. Ha. Just kidding. I’m still waiting until the last minute to write these. Onto the music:

Album: The 1975                                                                            Artist: The 1975

The 1975

Almost every review I’ve read (and granted — it was only two that I read start to finish) began with a touching story of a band called something or other that was just about to make it before they fell off the face of the earth. That band was The 1975. I’ll give you the shortened version: The 1975 has gone through like a million and a half band names. Their latest (before The 1975, obviously) was just about to make it with their EP single “Sex,” and then they suddenly disappeared and the accompanying video was removed from the internet. Later, they reappeared as The 1975 and released a few EPs before finally releasing their debut album, The 1975, in September of 2013.

There — now you’re caught up. The 1975 was a pretty ambitious debut. Most bands don’t start with 16 songs on their first album. Of course, several of these songs were released on a few EPs before the album, but they were all revamped during the recording of the album. Now, in my opinion, this is one of those bands that you’ll either fall in love with, or blow off after one listen. To be honest, I was almost in the latter category, but Alexandra’s a little obsessed and thanks to the song “The City” I didn’t blow them off. Not to say that I didn’t think they were good, but they were just… unexpected.

Unexpected sounds like a bad word. It’s got a negative connotation. I guess what I meant is that I expected them to be darker, for lack of a better word. They film a lot of their videos in black in white. A lot of their pictures are in black and white. They wear leather jackets and have cool haircuts. Brit pop was literally the last thing I was expecting. But seriously, it’s like Duran Duran meets The Arctic Monkeys but Matty Healy’s accent is like Alex Turner’s on crack and the 80s sound is that of Boy George. Ok, maybe not that bad. But back to the accent — I actually had to google some lyrics for once, and it was an odd experience because let me tell you: the lyrics I made up did NOT match the ones on the page.

But before I talk about the actual music I want to talk about what other critics had to say. Some critics loved it. In fact, Ryan Gardner of absolutepunk.net called the album “timeless already” and gave it a 9.5. I mean, I liked it. But a 9.5? That leaves no room for improvement! On the other end, some hated it. Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone gave it 2/5 five stars and said that “The 1975 could use some enunciation lessons and an editor.” Harsh, really. I guess it’s not as bad as 1/5, though. (Links to reviews are at the bottom of the post).

I guess if you were to ask me, I’d fall somewhere in the middle but on the more positive end. I think I’ll go with a 7. Here’s why:

I’ll start with the good things about The 1975. For one, the band was incredibly ambitious and I think it definitely payed off. I think the album manages to keep it’s audiences attention despite the length, because their straight up 80s beats are incredibly catchy and make you want to dance in odd ways and Matty’s voice is wonderful. Yeah that’s right. I’m going to fangirl a little and call him Matty.

Secondly, I think Healy’s writing is pretty clever. Admittedly I can’t say it about all of the lyrics found on The 1975, but I would go with about 80%. The lyrical content mostly focuses on sex, drugs, and depression, but The 1975 knows exactly who they are. In “So Far (It’s Alright)” Healy sings “You just write about sex and killing yourself and how you hardly ever went to school.” I think it’s exactly what the band is going for though. A lot of their songs came out of their formative years and they’re very honest about where they came from and what they were doing back then.

I also think that the band is at it’s strongest when it goes for the more upbeat. Don’t get me wrong here, I love “Robbers” and other slower songs on the album. They’ve got a lot of emotion that I think is lacking from most music you hear today, but tracks like “Chocolate,” “Girls,” “Heart Out,” and “Sex” (among a million others I could keep naming) are where they seem the most comfortable.

But for as catchy and wonderful as this album is, there are some cons. Like I mentioned earlier, I think we can expect more from this band. The overall sound of the album doesn’t change much. For the longest time, in my head I would merge “Heart Out” and “Settle Down” in my head and realizing they weren’t in the same song was one of those earth-shattering moments. And that’s my point I guess — they all kind of run together (with a few exceptions of course). I also think that Healy has room to grow as a song writer, not that he isn’t doing a great job already. I admire their ambition and I’m excited to hear what comes next.

Until Saturday, keep listening peeps. Sorry I’ve been gone for so long 🙂

Honorable Song Mentions: It’s all good. I guess if I had to pick some, I’d go with The City, Sex, Girls, She Way Out, and Robbers (but only AFTER you’ve seen the music video — it’s sad).

Reviews: