Florence + the Machine: How Big How Blue How Beautiful (Album Review)

Florence + the Machine’s third studio release, How Big How Blue How Beautiful is possibly the most aptly titled album ever with its big, brassy orchestral sound, beautiful vocals and wistful, poetic lyrics.

I am teaching myself how to be free.

Lungs and Ceremonials are among my all-time favorite albums and this new collection is a very worthy followup. I purchased the Target version of the album (yes a physical CD in a brick and mortar store!), which contains two exclusive additional tracks plus the Deluxe Edition’s four bonus tracks for a total of eighteen new Florence songs.

How Big How Blue How Beautiful bursts open with the singles “Ship to Wreck” and “What Kind of Man” before sliding into the gorgeously symphonic title track.

Standout tracks “Queen of Peace” and “Various Storms & Saints” recall the exquisite, operatic pop drama of Ceremonials before “Delilah” dances in.

The demo “Which Witch” is such a dazzling, intricately constructed piece of wonderment, it boggles my mind that it’s only a bonus track. It’s unfathomable that a song this good was not considered worthy of inclusion on the final album tracklist. Whether you purhase the Deluxe Edition as a whole or the individual mp3, you need to hear “Which Witch.”

The two Target bonus tracks are lovely, especially the finale “Conductor.” The song uses a symphony metaphor for a turbulent relationship and ends with the line “I am the orchestra, the conductor too. My heart is a concert hall and I filled it with you.”

With three magnificent albums under her belt, Florence Welch and her machine have cemented their place as my favorite modern band.

Florence + the Machine Official Site

Bastille: All This Bad Blood

Bastille’s Bad Blood was named one of 2013’s best albums by more than one Muruch writer last year, long before the single “Pompeii” began ruling the radio. On the heels of the song’s success, Bastille released an expanded, two-disc version of their hit album called All This Bad Blood. I’m not usually a fan of such “deluxe” editions, but this is an exception. I can’t get enough Bastille.

If you’ve heard any of the songs from the original Bad Blood album, you already know Bastille’s music is a refreshing and rare blend of catchy pop melodies, rock instrumentation and intelligently poetic lyrics.

“Pompeii” is the prime example of Bastille’s talent for masking exquisite lyrical depth with an irresistable pop hook and, in this case, a chanting backing male choir. Even after what must have been a thousand listens, I’m still enchanted and enraptured by the song to the point of obsession. I mean, come on, a pop song about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius? What’s not to love about that?!

Beyond their accessible and incredibly infectious arrangements, songs like “Pompeii” and the equally haunting “Things We Lost in the Fire” cleverly use material losses as a lyrical metaphor for emotional damage.

Other standout tracks are the mythical, theatrical ode to self-destruction “Icarus,” the wistful ballad “Oblivion,” the rolling, rollicking, Biblical piano anthem “Daniel in the Den” and the dark, pulsing, Lynchian rock tribute “Laura Palmer.”

The new songs, b-sides and demos included on the second disc of the reissue don’t deviate from the sound established on the original album, though it’s easy to understand why the band chose to release these somewhat lesser songs as bonus tracks instead of as a separate album.

The exception that makes All This Bad Blood worth purchasing is the mesmeric incorporation of “Oh Holy Night” into “Tuning Out.”

Other highlights include “Sleepsong,” “Durban Skies, “The Draw”” and “Of the Night,” which is an unexpected electro-rock mashup cover of “Rhythm is a Dancer” by Snap! and Corona’s “Rhythm of the Night.”

Buy @ Amazon

The Lumineers: Talking Heads Cover

“Naïve Melody (This Must Be The Place)” is one of my favorite Talking Heads songs, so I always enjoy hearing other artists cover it. I was especially excited to hear the new cover by The Lumineers, since I loved their self-titled debut so much. The cover is one of four previously unreleased tracks featured on the upcoming “Deluxe Edition” of their album – I really hate the “Deluxe” edition gimmick…just record a new album already! A great song covered by a great band should be great, no? Sadly, it’s a bit of a disappointment. It’s by no means bad, it is The Lumineers after all. But this particularly cover is lackluster compared to the Talking Heads’ quirky original or Shawn Colvin’s heartfelt cover (which remains the definitive version for me). You can stream The Lumineers’ cover below. If you like it, I highly recommend you check out Talking Heads original and Shawn Colvin’s cover (better yet, get Shawn’s entire Cover Girl album).

Buy @ Amazon

Giveaway: Win Peter Gabriel’s So – 25th Anniversary Edition 3-CD Boxset!

Contest Closed

Muruch and EMI Records are happy to give Peter Gabriel fans an opportunity to win one of three So – 25th Anniversary Edition 3-CD boxsets! You can read my review and description of the boxset here and the giveaway details are below…

3 winners will each receive:
1 copy of Peter Gabriel’s So – 25th Anniversary Edition 3-CD Boxset

The Rules:

Comment to this entry with the word “So” and your email address. All new comments are moderated to avoid spam (which is why you must include the required text in your comment), so it may take a day for your comment to appear if you haven’t commented on Muruch before.

Note: This giveaway is open to everyone, but all entrants must supply a valid email address to qualify. The winners of the giveaway will also be required to provide me with their full names and postal addresses for shipping purposes.

The Deadline:

The giveaway will end on Friday, November 16th. The winners will be chosen at random and contacted via email.

Go now go! And tell others.

Buy So (25th Anniversary Remaster) CD @ Amazon

Buy So (25th Anniversary 3-CD Deluxe Edition) @ Amazon

Buy So (25th Anniversary Immersion CD/DVD/Vinyl Boxset) @ Amazon

Peter Gabriel Official Site