WORDS BY JANET HARDING
‘With 14 Powerful Tracks, Brimming Full Of Content, Autobiographical Themes And Very Personal Insights’
‘Dance Fever’ is the latest album release from the goddess of Bohemian rock, Florence and the Machine. This is the fifth album, produced in London by Florence Welch herself, with Jack Anatoff and Dave Batley of Glass Animals. With 14 powerful tracks, brimming full of content, autobiographical themes and very personal insights, it’s a rich tapestry of emotive sounds and feels. Atmospheric, rousing, emotional and truly captivating, it’s another triumph from the esteemed and expressive Florence and the Machine.
The sound throughout the album is fresh and vibrant as ever, although each track has a different feel. The main themes of the album are of self expression, celebration, anxiety, frustration and choreomania – dancing plague, a medieval phenomenon which fascinates Florence Welch. This in fact is present in all the tracks in some form or other.
‘King’ is the opening track and is full of real personal insight about the turmoil of motherhood versus career and how inadvertently one can become so wrapped up in ambition, creativity and a successful career that suddenly it dawns that family life has passed by. It’s about the struggles of womanhood and how it becomes a choice…that you didn’t necessarily intend to make. Very powerful, expressive lyrics convey how Florence herself has become trapped within her own complex workings and the confines of art and expression – the very things that are free and unbinding… “But a woman is a changeling, always shifting shape, just when you think you have it figured out something new begins to take”…
A complex drum beat drives this song, with a strong beat running throughout, like it’s the beating heart of this message. As often is the case with Florence and the Machine material, it starts off slow, low key, simple, progressing steadily as the track plays on, layering, building, gaining momentum until we reach that delightful crescendo, the orchestral sounds, those glorious rousing, soaring vibrato vocals. It’s spine tingling. It feels uplifting, liberating almost in stark contrast to its central theme. We have utterly magical, eclectic moments thanks to the string arrangements, all blending beautifully into this spellbinding sound. It’s a juxtaposition between twinkling cheeriness and heart wrenching darkness….”I am no mother, I am no bride, I am King…”
The other track I’m totally taken with is ‘Choreomania’. With a spoken intro describing Florence’s own experience of a ‘freak out in the middle of the street’ it’s another very personal theme of anxiety and uncontrolled self expression. Shimmering, fairytale feels with an undercurrent of 80s electro and very Kate Bush feeling, it tells of the phenomena of choreomania – the dancing plague, occurring in medieval times, where victims would dance uncontrollably and feverishly until they would drop from exhaustion – conveying how this is comparable to the feeling of the recent pandemic, of spending so long being unable to dance publicly, unable to interact and socialise, a complete lack of performance freedom. This medieval mass hysteria becomes a metaphor for celebration bordering on overkill, freedom, but of how it can become overwhelming; of how somebody who hasn’t had anything particularly bad happen to her can still fall victim to anxiety and suffer some form of panic attack or similar episode…”and I am freaking out in the middle of the street with the complete conviction of someone who has never had anything actually bad happen to them”… As a keen, expressive dancer, it illustrates how such things give her a sense of release and how, when unable to continue, it can have astronomical effects on mental health.
The overall theme of this album, which comes across whole heartedly, is one of how we all suffer confines, whether self inflicted or otherwise, but that self expression is key and we need to celebrate this. It’s an exuberance, a symphony of now that lockdown and restrictions are over let’s go all out, let’s celebrate, let’s dance; a build up of energy, creativeness and passion through being confined, but now that we can perform/socialise/express ourselves again, that energy may explode and may be beyond our control. Celtic sadness, dance vibes, but for me the winning formula is that drum beat driving sound and the layering, shimmering feels of an ever building sound, then the explosion of vocals over crescendos.
Another triumph…as a band Florence and the Machine have made a career out of expression… they encompass the whole feeling of what they convey. A stunning, thought provoking, very candid album of extremes. It’s what this band does best – the euphoric, ‘feel good’ highs pitched with that sorrowful edge. A brilliantly medieval or pre-Raphaelite feel (very similar in part to the content of the pre-
Raphaelite Brotherhood movement and their fascination with the medieval era and all things ‘before Raphael’) which the art work cements. Florence Welch is the epitome of the pre-Raphaelite painting style and the album cover could be straight from a John Everett Millais painting, although also very Art Nouveau feeling and reminiscent of an Alfons Mucha poster
This album follows on brilliantly from previous works. A musical masterpiece.
Dance Fever Tracklist:
4. Back in Town
5. Girls Against God
6. Dream Girl Evil
7. Prayer Factory
9. Heaven is Here
11. My Love
13. The Bomb
14. Morning Elvis
Dance Fever UK Tour:
16th Nov 2022 – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
18th Nov 2022 – The O2, London
19th Nov 2022 – The O2, London
21st Nov 2022 – Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth
22nd Nov 2022 – AO Arena, Manchester
24th Nov 2022 – Utilita Arena, Birmingham
25th Nov 2022 – First Direct Arena, Leeds
27th Nov 2022 – OVO Hydro, Glasgow
28th Nov 2022 – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
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