"Le Voyage Dans la Lune" – Air

The atmospheric spacey melodies of Air, a French outfit known for their ethereal electronica, are back in (admittedly delicate) force on his album which is the soundtrack for the re-issued 110 year old George Melies movie, Le Voyage Dans la Lune.

A colour version of the film is about to hit the world festival circuit, after being found in 1993 and painstakingly restored, and Air, who have some history scoring movies with Sofia Coppola among others, have contributed this music to the re-issue at the request of the film’s restorers. It’s a perfect marriage. The movie, which was directed by Melies as a comedy, does have darker themes to it too – the intrepid astronauts of the film fight with Martians and even take one hostage – so Air’s ability to meld dark and light into one piece of aural magic complements the film’s tone, and sounds as if it were always part of the cinematic masterpiece.

The music throughout this album is quite beautiful and sounds like the perfect accompaniment to your day dreams. Evocative day dreams at that. It is lush, rich and almost symphonic, and it feels as if you should be wafting above the ground as you take it in. “Lava” with its choral overtones being a case in point. It is all quite apropos since it is, after all, the soundtrack for a space-themed movie.

In that vein, it is a soundtrack full of blips, beeps and sonic playfulness. “Sonic Armada”grooves and soars in that breathy way that Air have raised to an art form. So too “Cosmic Trip” is also jam-packed with bouncy drips and plops – it’s the only way I can adequately describe the jaunty sounds they have woven into the fabric of this song – and zips along, sounding dark and haunting, and joyfully exuberant all at once.

Quite a feat but given Air’s pedigree, it’s not really a surprise at all. They are two very talented men, and inspired by an equally clever Gallic predecessor, have crafted a body of music that is likely their finest yet. This is a worthy addition to their canon, and the perfect accompaniment to the whimsy and genius of George Melies.

Lindsey Stirling: never have violins been this much fun!

I hate to admit this but I have always found bouncy upbeat tunes featuring violins a bit twee. Perhaps it was the Switched On Classics of my youth. Perhaps I was attacked by a pack of poorly played violins as a child. Who knows?

I can’t be certain what caused this aversion but I do know who has managed to get right around it, get me listening to music I once spurned, and all the more remarkably, loving it. Her name, my fellow pop culture addicts, is Lindsey Stirling (yes I know the headline gave it away) and she is absolutely amazing.

There is nothing even remotely twee about this talented woman. She is funky, exuberant and plays the most uplifting, bouncy tunes I have ever heard anyone play and yes, they all involve spirited playing of her violin.

It appears she had always been a fairly go get ’em kind of person . At the tender age of six, she begged her family for violin lessons, took the instrument like a prodigy and after joining a rock band at 16, ended up on America’s Got Talent in 2010. That’s a considerable amount of drive, determination, and as the music bears out, talent. (You can read her full bio here.)

Clearly she wanted to be noticed, and thankfully, she is worth noticing. Her sound is entirely original, mostly upbeat electronica-influenced tunes – it was not for nothing that she was tagged as the “Hip Hop Violinist” on America’s Got Talent which completely makes sense since she is classical and street all at once – although she has released some achingly beautiful tunes, and her clips are endlessly inventive such as the one for “Shadows” below (which a friend showed me a scant two days ago):

 She is definitely a one-of-a-kind artist and I love the fact that her creed is to always be who you are. In a world screaming out for everyone to merge into one bland blob of conformity, this fun-loving, extrovert with a gift for drawing melodies from god off her violin refuses to be anyone but herself. It’s no doubt this ethos that underpins the utter gorgeous originality of her music.

Go on listen to it all. If it can persuade a guy like me to overcome my violin-phobia, then it’s likely you will be as enthralled by her as I am.

I dare you not to dance.

"Locked By Land" – Jinja Safari

Is there such a genre, in this ever more musically fragmented world, as Rastafarian-Funk-Tribal? Because if there is, then Jinja Safari should own it hands down.

Not that that is the dominant sound on this wholly unique album. It also possesses some Bon Iver dreaminess, or the folk sensibilities of Mumford and Sons, or the rich melodic strains of Coldplay. But even with all these stellar influences, this is an album that treads its own alternative path and makes its own  much welcome statement.

It is, to use a completely subjective term, gorgeous. The harmonies alone, on  tracks like opening number “Sunken House” or “Mud” are sublimely beautiful and a delight to listen to. They don’t necessarily craft what you’d call conventional pop songs and that is the album’s greatest strength I think. Not that conventional pop songs are a bad thing per se; I love them but so many other artists are doing them to greater or lesser effect.

Jinja Safari’s often otherworldly floaty melodies, which flirt with equal mix of tribal funk and electronic sweeps, are a sound all their own, and in today’s ADHD world where attention spans are measured in nanoseconds, you definitely need to be your hoist your own colours to the flagpole and make sure everyone sees (or hears) them. But I don’t get the sense that Jinja Safari have done this as any sort of deliberate strategy to stand out from this cacophonous cyber melee.

Rather, they sound gloriously authentically themselves with a sound that sounds organic, natural and better still, consistently strong through the album. That may be seen as weakness by the gods of eclecticism who crave artists who dash from one experimental rhythm to another with frenetic urgency but it’s anything but for this clever band.

They have been blessed to find an alternative sound all their own that is rich, packed full of delicious harmonies and melodies, and contagious beyond all reason. You will dance, sing-a-long like a deliriously happy madman, and always to a sound that is wholly Jinja Safari’s.

And for that in a musically fractured world of copycats, and instant memes, they should be congratulated.

"Born To Die" – Lana Del Ray

Why does everyone hate Lana Del Rey so much?

I know it is much easier to tear down than build up, and people are often too cowardly to voice a differing opinion when the inflamed mob is of one brain-addled mind. Even so, it is like people have gathered together the cyber equivalent of an angry mob with flaming torches, and pitchforks, and have come to destroy the beast that threatens the joy of their idyllic pop existence.

And I am at a loss to work out why. Lana Del Rey, once Lizzy Grant, is hardly the first artist to rethink her musical direction, reassess and reinvent and boldly march off into new uncharted territory. Or possibly territory thoroughly explored by others, but determined to place her own unique stamp on it. Possibly she is a corporate construct as some allege, but again, she would hardly be the first.

So why the vitriol? Why has the pack mentality so completely taken over in the case of an artist who has simply tried to do something different to what she had done before? As Kristen Wiig cleverly said when impersonating Lana Del Rey on Saturday Night Live:

“Based on the public’s response, I must have clubbed a seal while singing the Taliban National Anthem.”

The real Lana Del Rey

Now I am not sure about the seal, but the Taliban National Anthem is most definitely not on the album. But what is on there is a collection of sultry songs that while they may suffer from perhaps a little too much production at times, are passionate slow-burning paeans to lost love and the hard times of life. While “Video Games” does certainly tower above everything else on the album – no other song really matches its goose bump-inducing melancholia – this is not the sonic dirge that many critics allege it to be.

Is it wildly innovative? Not especially (but then not every album can be, or has to be from any artist). Is it in the same league as Amy Winehouse’s smoke and whisky musical tour de forces? Again, no. But Ms Winehouse was a genius, whose like we shall not see again for quite some time. But does this diminish this album by comparison?

Of course it doesn’t. Lana Del Rey has crafted a set of songs that speak longingly of a hope for a better life. Slow sultry songs that do what these types of songs do best – decry the paucity of the human condition as we long for a better world we suspect isn’t possible, but which we desire with an aching urgency that it paralyses us at times.

Maybe her debut album won’t set the world on fire (although I am sure, like any artist, she is hoping it will). But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable piece of music with some value. If anything, the hype that build up around the extraordinarily good “Video Games” probably doomed this album from the start since nothing on this earth can really live up to the vaulting hopes and expectations of consumers craving that new and exciting something or someone. And it’s highly likely that Ms Del Ray’s marketing team should not have promoted her to the hipsters first and then the mainstream record buying public second. It’s the former group that have turned on her, accusing her of being a corporate creation with minimal talent and not many prospects.

“Video Games” was released last June as part of a calculated strategy to establish her as a major talent-to-watch via viral marketing. There’s nothing wrong with that, nor especially new. In face, viral campaigns are now de rigeur for aspiring artists in any field. But should she have gone this route? That is now open to question given the backlash she’s encountered.

Still, flawed marketing strategies aside, what you can’t really hold her responsible for is people proclaiming her, which they effectively did on the basis of magnificent song, as the great white hope of musical innovation. Yes she started a marketing campaign to raise her profile, but she was not responsible for the mania that grew up around her as a result. That is entirely the creation of the hipster masses craving their next exciting pop culture fix.

Masses, who it should be noted, then proceeded to turn on her like rabid dogs when what they expected wasn’t delivered exactly as their fevered minds had conjured it up. That isn’t Ms Del Rey’s fault, its the pop culture addicts jonesing for their full length album fix.

So maybe the album isn’t a world beater, or a defining pop moment like Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Was it really meant to be? It is her first major musical statement as this artist,  and perhaps she, like many artists before her, needs time to grow into her art. Or like many other young pop ingenues before her, shake off her misguided Svengalis and sculpt her career the way she wants it.

Maybe then she won’t attract the ire of those who feel they have been sold a lemon, musically wise, and can concentrate on expressing herself the way she wants to, authentically and true to herself. But regardless of where she goes from here, I think the arbiters of pop culture taste need to ask themselves why they react so angrily to one artist releasing some music, because really that is all she did, and she doesn’t deserve the hatred of the screaming banshees she has attracted.

"Something" – Chairlift

For Chairlift the 1980s, and its synth-drenched rhythm never really ended.

And no, I am not using their choice to put down creative roots in the heyday of Gary Numan, and Duran Duran as some sort of patronising putdown. It is anything but. Unlike so many other bands that draw inspiration from this decade, and get stuck there like sabre-tooth tigers in a musical La Brea tar pit, this talented Brooklyn duo use it merely as a launch pad into edgy synth-driven electronica quite of their own making. No fossilised “Rio” melodies lingering here.

On one level it is the sort of effervescent pop that makes you want to hum along, tap your feet and dance like a drug-addled monkey (they can really dance you know) to melodies so perfect it’s like they were plucked from the sky as if by sonic sleight of hand. The melodies are pure unadulterated gorgeous pop and they shimmer and shine like sequins on a drag queen.

Now just an anything-but-ordinary twosome comprising Caroline Polacheck and Patrick Wimberly, after the departure of third member, and founding band mate, Aaron Pfenning, they aren’t afraid to marry these shiny pretty melodies with quirky touches either. The perfect marriage, it must be said, of accessible melodies with flourishes so idiosyncratic they wear crimson French berets and cite Degas and Freud as influences.

In effect, they have achieved what so many before them failed to do. No, not the beret-wearing. Anyone can do that. No, I mean the merging together of artistic darling status with the sort of melodies that could dance across the charts as happily as a new couple in love. That is no mean feat, and the fact they can make it sound so effortless an achievement, suggests the prodigious amount of talent resting in these two hipster artists.

Songs like “Wrong Opinion” join in a very holy union indeed. Clanging bells, whispy longing vocals, and a moody but bouncy melody fuse into a song that leaps from the speakers, and dares you not to join in a joyful (yet oddly contemplative) waltz around some imaginary hip modern ballroom. It is edgy true, and slightly dark, but never less than sublimely pop-ish.

Similarly, “Amanaemonesia” wails and hollers to a bouncy tune so compulsively upbeat it makes Tony Robbins look like he’s on a downer. But at the same time, it makes references to “Spacing out in a nook and cranny / It’s officially uncanny / It’s a fish in a sea of granite.” Does it make sense? No, but does it matter? There is some vague sense of running away with someone she likes a great deal, all the time bopping along to music that makes you want to pack a small red suitcase, and run right along with them.

Still, if the prospect of dancing along endlessly to quirky clever feet-manipulating pop sounds a little exhausting, fear not lovers of pop so clever it must have a degree named after it. For Chairlift understand that pop lovers cannot live on exuberant movement alone; the cost of replacing your shiny ruby red slippers alone wouldn’t bankrupt you.

So they give you exquisite slow moving pop gems like “Cool as a Fire” which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Sarah McLachlan album (though simultaneously a creature all its own), with its breathy cries of regret of love gone wrong. It is poignant, touching, and has to be accompanied by the flickering light of a a dying candle in the wee small hours of a sad but accepting night.

Or “Turning”, a luxuriously beautiful but discordant melody that might be mistaken for an errant New Age were it not for the 60s-inspired ethereal harmonies that wash through it, over it, and ultimately into a languid afternoon of contemplation and softly chirping crickets.

So there you have it my hordes of grooving pop addicts. An album of gloriously good pop riches that knows an intoxicatingly beautiful pop melody when it hears it but hasn’t traded it clever, witty soul to attain it, very much staying its own quirky creation, berets and all.

Its true. The 80s are not that far away at all when Chairlift come a-calling, but it may not necessarily be the decade you might remember and that is the magic of their music.

MDNA – Madonna

Madonna has a new album out March 27 my friends and I am excited!
I love the cover, which is bright, colourful and sassy. I love the first single, Give Me All Your Luvin’ (which was leaked a little while back), which is 80s pop confectionary of the highest order, and instantly engaging.
And I love the fact that she continues to re-invent herself, both musically and otherwise – her selection of the uber-talented Martin Solveig to produce the album is a stroke of genius, and pushes her musical envelope in all sorts of immensely cool ways – and not listen to the carping and criticism directed at her. Whatever is said about her, she is a talented, clever artist with a great deal still to offer.
Here’s to being true to yourself and entertaining people in the process Madonna! 

I love my Scandinavian pop!

It’s 1976, and along with the rest of Australia I had fallen hopelessly, irrevocably (in my case anyway) in love with Swedish superstars ABBA. I loved how they looked, how they talked (with that delightful clipped accent), and most of all, of course, I loved their crisp, bright pop melodies, and the gorgeous layered vocals that matched them perfectly. I couldn’t get enough of them.
Fast forward, ahem, quite a few years (you do the math!), and I still love ABBA. Perhaps not with the same fervour I once did, but I love them. Their music is still among the most exquisite perfect pop I have ever heard (and with 8000 plus tunes on my iPod, I have heard a lot of great pop music) and it is a joy to listen to any of their songs, yes even the later darker ones that most people don’t know about. It is not a nostalgia thing per se; while I value my past, I don’t live in it, nor venerate it, and I love the thrill of powering into the future wondering what wonderful surprises await me.
ABBA making good use of aluminium foil.
No, what it is is a profound love of good soul-nourishing pop music, and I am not sure why but the Swedes and their fellow Scandinavians are preternaturally gifted at creating the most innovative, catchy, enticing pop. The key word here is innovative. It’s not that no one else produces great pop music that I like – they do, among them Coldplay, Yusek and Annie Lennox, and it is beautiful and delights my pop-loving soul.
But the Scandinavians seem to have this knack for creating pop that is both beautiful and clever, that beguiles and entrances, that makes me want to listen to them again and again. I don’t think it’s simply ‘the ABBA effect’ that makes me seek their one-of-a-kind pop out; that listening to all their brilliant songs predisposed me to liking a lot of other artists from their part of the world. That certainly didn’t happen during the 80s or 90s, when I listened to lots of music that was far more mainstream.
But sometime in the early Noughties, as some are want to call the first decade of the 21st Century, I started listening to more and more music that wasn’t on the charts, that flew beneath the pop culture radar. It was partly discovering Rage in the early hours of Saturday morning when all of the more obscure stuff gets played. It was also partly discovering the richness of music on iTunes (yes iTunes thank you – you just need to dig down and follow the threads of connected artists), YouTube, and even, my local record store HUM. 
All of these avenues led me to music that hadn’t registered with me previously nor it seems with the populace at large. It was daring, fresh, dare I say even fun, and to my surprise, a great deal of the really top notch material was Scandinavian. I shouldn’t have been surprised with ABBA as a precedent but in the intervening years between my teenage love affair with them, and my grown up self, I had lost sight of how the music from that idiosyncratic in-all-the-best-ways part of Europe truly was.
And it is very good. Artists like Robyn, and Lykke Li manage to marry insanely catchy pop with lyrics that do more than celebrate being on the dance floor or kissing a hot guy you’ve just met. It is insightful, poetic and ins some cases, melancholic. But it always says something interesting, speaking from the heart about life as it really is in a way that a lot of other pop music doesn’t do. Of course there is nothing wrong with pop music that mindlessly bops along, and no one wants to feel they’re interpreting a thesis every time they hear a song on the radio or via their iPod, but it is good to know that when you want music that can both sonically enthral and engage the mind, that the music is there, and will, more than likely have come from the clever hands of a Scandinavian artist.
So who are my favourites among this talented bunch of northern European artists?

ROBYN



Born in 1979, she’s the daughter of Swedish actors, quirky but committed to social justice (she was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador from 1999 – 2001) and creates pop so clever that you are left wondering how she is not bigger than Madonna, Britney and a whole host of divas combined. Catchy doesn’t begin to describe the songs she releases – you can’t help but dance! But it’s not only your feet she will have in furious motion. Your mind too will be drinking in lyrics that speak to the human condition with a brutal honesty few artists manage. This is real music that moves the mind and soul.

Not so much a solo act as I initially thought, they are in fact a duo made up of vocalist Sally Shapiro (not her real name) and musician Johan Agebjorn, who officially make what’s called Italo disco/synthpop.  Their music is relentlessly lushly melodic and while the lyrics may not be as rich and insightful as their compatriot above, the emotional range they bring to the table is considerable and elevates their pop to a cut above most of the fare out there. They have a sense of wonder at life, and all it’s many facets, and Sally sings with an almost childlike wonder at times.

ANNIE



She describes her music as “pop with strange edges” and it’s a totally unique mix of electropop and synth pop. Her breakthrough album was Anniemal in 2004 and it established her as an artist and DJ that was not afraid to make edgy pop that defied easy categorisation. It’s bright, frothy pop confection but don’t let it fool you – it’s not disposable pop and she writes about stuff that matters (the song ‘Marie Cherie’ for instance is about a girl who kills herself after being abused by her alcoholic father). Once again, intelligent pop that will last.

LYKKE LI

Another unconventional pop princess and all the better for it. While her earlier efforts were a reasonably sunny mix of pop, rock and some electronica, her newest album, Wounded Rhymes, took a more melancholic turn, articulating darker themes of lost love and life’s disappointments. Amazing themes for a 24 year old to be grappling with but pain and sadness are no respecter of youth, and Lykke Li does an awesome of expressing these emotions with a vocally and emotionally powerful delivery. Yes she will remind you that you can get your heart busted in two as you walk through life, but her music is so powerful and yet fragile that you won’t mind a bit.

VANBOT

I have only recanted discovered this artists, thanks to an awesomely good music blog called Popservations (an inspired name if ever there was one!) and I am loving the music of Ester Odeskog (vocals and songwriting) and Sebastian Forslund (production). It is one of those catchy pop albums that runs the gamut from up-on-the-floor dance (“Make Me, Break Me”) to slower but no less melodic songs like “Bad Day”. The melodies, propelled by driving synth beats, are impossible to resist, and this is exactly what Ester had in mind as she told must.com when they interviews her recently:

“Intoxicating and sticky. The songs are made from nerve and dressed in catchy melodies with deep beats. I want to create a stickyness to each melodi that makes it impossible for the listener not to want more! The melodies are my babies!”

She is definitely one to look out for and I predict big things for this talented in the not too distant future.

So they’re the Top 5 but surely you say there must be more artists than that bursting forth the creative hotbed that is Scandinavia. Of course! I haven’t mentioned artists like Norwegian electronica masters, Royksopp because they are so well known and my object in this post was to highlight the people that have slipped beneath the radar.

I adore and love them, as well as the very lovely and talented Jenny Wilson (despite the name as Swedish as they come), Inga Liljestrom, The Perishers, Britta Persson, and Icona Pop. They are all deliciously, wonderfully idiosyncratic and I think that’s what makes them so attractive. They make music that is utterly unique and so different to anything else around, and in a world of homogenised everything, that is such a rarity. (You can see their clips below).

Go ahead and discover it all! Your ears and soul will thank you.

Videogames – Lana Del Ray

Thank god for ABC’s JJJ radio, a government-funded music network that is primarily targeted at a younger demographic that plays some mainstream music but mostly spins records from bands than the commercial FM radio stations would never consider adding to their playlist.

It is because of JJJ’s willingness to play music by up-and-coming talents that haven’t hit the radar of anyone but the truly music-obsessed that I stumble across many of the artists that fill my iPod.

One such artist at the moment is Lana Del Ray who possesses an earthy voice that speaks of late nights in smoky bars and a life lived in a harder place than many of us encounter (her beautiful face speaks of nothing of the kind of course). Her voice though is not some blunt instrument capable only of the most rudimentary of emotional expression; no, it’s a thing of subtle beauty, clutching pain and resignation close to a heart breaking from the sadness of dashed expectations.

The song that is currently on radio, Videogames, evinces this emotive sparseness. It is raw, beautiful, and heart-achingly sad. It speaks of a woman who knows that the world is made for two, but lives in a version of it so flawed, you can hear her spirit-crushing disappointment bleeding through the speakers.

She describes a life filled with emotional and physical abuse, graphic and yet also hinted at in lyrics so expertly written they take your breath away. They articulate a world so bereft of the ideals of true love, bound by hopeless resignation to a cruel reality that will never measure up to the wistful longing of the woman at the centre of it.

But all this dark pain is counter balanced by music, including the most delicate of harp playing, so pretty, and sublimely beautiful (that belies the harsh subject matter) that you are drawn into the story again and again. You can help it. It is so seductively compelling that turning away is not an option. Yes you know you are hearing a life disintegrate into a thousand bloodied glass splinters but it is so heartfelt, lyrically and musically, that you can’t stop playing it over and over.

This song is so overwhelmingly gorgeous, and yet so powerfully raw and honest, that you need to listen to it if you value music of truth and real artistry.

I cannot wait to see what this talented woman does next. I expect it will be nothing short of one of the most powerful, rich albums of 2012

M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming (review)

I love new music. It’s not out of some desperate desire to remain hip and relevant in my 40s because let’s face it that never works as a deliberate strategy and you end up only as an object of pity by pitiless Gen Ys.

No, I love new music because you discover startling new talent, luxuriate in melodies that either liberate your soul to dance, or ease it into a chilled place where the stresses of every day life no longer apply.

The joy of M83’s new album is that they do both. Their synth rhythms which owe an undeniable debt to the sort of 80s pop I grew up listening to, are a soul-satisfying mix of danceable joie de vivre, and the most luxuriously languid synth symphonies anyone could ask for. One track in particular, Raconte-moi une histoire (tell me story) is a smile-inducing swirl of bouncy melodies, soothing pace, and a sweet young child telling a story about a magical frog that transforms people into cupcakes, and creates millions of new friends instantly. It has it all, and it manages that rare feat – making me grin like an idiot on Sydney public transport without fear of scornful stares from my fellow train- travellers.

The thing that is so appealing about M83 is that they don’t mindlessly ape the 80s in some vain attempt to found pleasingly retro. Instead, it is an organic part if their sound – both the opening track, Midnight City, and the track that follows, Reunion, come out of the blocks redolent of retro synth beats, but very much creatures of 21st Century artistry. This is a rare skill – to appropriate the past without slavishly reliving it and M83 manage it in a way that is so pure and organic, you marvel at their skill.

The melodies are sublime and joyful, wistful and contemplative, and transport you to the sort of places a morning commute can’t take You to. That’s why I often listen to new albums on the morning train. If an album of new music, and I listen to so much of it that it must be distinctive to have a meaningful impact, can affect my morning commute mood (alert but been-there-done-that), then it’s definitely worth listening to.

This is that rare creature – an album of beautiful songs that isn’t earnest or so slow-moving that paint drying is lapping it, that mixes meaningful (but playful) lyrics with a childlike intent. It makes you want to dance for joy, smile at everyone passing you by (yes even on a morning commute thank you!), and it will make your day.

You can read a great bio of M83 (primarily Andrew Gonzalez) here.

Ceremonials – Florence and The Machine (review)

This is an album of astonishing vocal and melodic beauty.

Florence Welch, who dazzled us with her ability to wrap her voice about the most exquisite of emotional textures on Lungs, returns with an album that ranges from the intensely intimate and heartfelt to the epic and anthemic. At times, her voice powers through the songs with the intensity of a fiery Annie Lennox. At other times, it captures a winsomeness reminiscent of Kate Bush. But at every turn, her songs, populated by some of the smartest lyrics I have heard in some time, is entirely her own, suffused with passion, urgency and longing.

She has been accused by some detractors of sounding ‘too big’, which is an odd way of sounding her songs are too multi-layered and she sounds like a thousand urgent women all screaming in unison. But I find this perplexing since what Florence Welch gives us is an album that is all about passion, of wrestling with good and evil (‘Seven Devils’), and of struggling with the enormity of the sacrifices made for love (‘What the Water Gave Me’), and that sort of material demands a great big all-enveloping sound. Preferably augmented by any and all the bells and whistles (and harps) you want to throw in. Does it sound tribal and church-ey in equal measure? Yes, but this works for the songs which don’t skirt along the surface of human experience, but dive in with abandon asking big questions, articulating confusion, joy and sadness and all delivered courtesy of Florence’s goose-bump inducing powerhouse vocals.

This is a bombastic, full-on album but that is not meant as a pejorative. It shouts from the rooftops that life has a lot of questions that need answering, and great struggles that we will win or lose, and Florence + The Machine try to address them, even if answers aren’t always in ample supply. It is one of those rare albums where the substance of the lyrical intent matches the melodic passion, and it will stay with you for a good deal longer than those artists who stay small and unseen, tinkering on the edges.