If the current stable of UK hitmakers poised to conquer Mur’ca were a grade-school class, Florence Welch would be the girl belting the theme from Annie at the top of her lungs until she gets her damn gold star. It’s all spelled out on her album cover: her very lungs hanging there on the outside of her body, screaming to us: “This chick has pipes!”
True, Welch is quite the belter, but it’s the way she uses those lungs in the service of song that will polarize her potential Yank fans. One could take a smattering of numbers from this album and create an EP that should be slapped with a “For fans of Duffy and Winehouse” sticker. My advice: skip those tunes and focus instead on the more, uh, Kate Bushy material.
On the dreamy scorchers “Cosmic Life” and “Drumming Song,” Welch creates towering spires of crystalline ephemera, mixing harpsichords, tribal drums, and multi-tracked plainchants that crest and then plummet into Never Never Land. And even though damn near every third song sounds designed to sell overpriced sweaters at the Gap, the nectar at the heart of this album is worth the roughage you have to chew through to get there.