Lungs (Deluxe Edition)
With one 13-song exhalation, British singer-songwriter Florence Welch unleashed her siren-call of a voice—and announced her arrival as one of Britain’s most singular modern-day talents—on 2009’s Lungs. Though the quirkily named Florence + the Machine was very much of the 2000s and became an instant staple of that era’s UK indie scene, the nature-loving mysticism and wordy lyrics throughout Lungs established Welch as more of a modern-day Fiona Apple or Kate Bush. Though released by a major label, Lungs feels curiously DIY—sounding almost like demos by your favorite local songwriter. But Welch was too talented to be playing in dark bars, and too angelic to be busking in her flowing dresses. The supersized emotions found on Lungs were born from the devastation of a breakup, one that’s examined and explored in often roof-raising alt-pop. “The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out/You left me in the dark,” Welch wails like a banshee on the monumental “Cosmic Love.” And on the suspicious “I’m Not Calling You a Liar,” as well as the gothic “Howl,” she steeps in the pain of lost love. Everything about Lungs creates an aesthetic, and a world, that feels witchy, dark, and sometimes unhinged, whether it’s the album’s mythic artwork, or the haunting lyrics on “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up),” one of its biggest singles (“This is a gift, it comes with a price/Who is the lamb, and who is the knife?”). But Lungs is by no means a strictly ethereal record: There’s the bratty indie-rock of “Kiss With a Fist”—the product of Welch’s previous band, the little known hip-hop-influenced group Ashok—and the sonically angular and downright lyrically creepy “Girl With One Eye.” What holds all of Lungs together, though, is a quiet femininity paired with a triumphant attitude when you least expect it. If there’s one moment to take and treasure from Lungs, though, it’s “Dog Days Are Over”—an anthemic, shooting star of a song. It’s a track that captures the overarching message of not just this otherworldly album, but also Welch’s artistic vision as a whole: the desire to confront one’s feelings—in fact, to roar at the sky about them—but to let that self-expression also be a work of art.