TALENT MACHINE Camila Beaumord Originality in pop music isn’t an easy task. Three decades of the crowing of King Michael (R.I.P.), to find a niche that hasn’t yet been explored by the music industry is quite a challenge. The girls of pop in particular seem to cling to preestablished rules of “good music”. They offer either nice lyrics, or fun arrangements, or powerful vocals, or a mix with a different genre (hip hop is the most popular), or electric dances on stage. It’s about time for someone to combine all these elements and still bring something special to their work. In 2009, that someone came along: British sensation Florence Welch is the answer to the prayers of millions of bored eardrums. Known as Florence and the Machine, the redhead and her band exploded in the London scene as they were the opening act for indie groups like The Lock Tavern, Blue Flowers and Filthy Few. Her debut album, Lungs, came out in July, but demo songs were already circling the Internet for months. Florence was the bet of most blogger/critics and didn’t let them down: in four days Lungs was certified Gold, which means that over 500,000 copies were sold. And the results couldn’t have been any different because Florence uses every one of those elements mentioned here before. Her voice is strong, fierce, and can transmit different emotions in her songs, like joy, anger, passion and despair. Her lyrics are intimate and well-written, the arrangements are delightful (on account of an excellent production team) and her stage presence is enchanting. To top it all, the band The Machine is an essential component to the beauty of Lungs, especially Tom Monger and his melodious harp. Florence Welch has a wide list of musical influences. Her mother was an avid fan of de R.E.M., The Smiths, Soft Machine and The Go-gos. Her dad introduced her to the Velvet Underground and The Incredible String Band. As a teenager Florence listened to Nirvana, Green Day and the White Stripes, and participated in a high school punk musical collective called The Toxic Cockroaches. All these bands appear a little bit in Florence’s songs. The collaboration of the renowned songwriter Devonte Hynes also plays a big part on the album. Hynes, popularly know as Lightspeed Champion, has worked with a large portion of the British music scene, including the Chemical Brothers and We Are Scientists. Florence’s creativity goes beyond her time in the studio and on stage. Due to her fascination of the painter Andrea Mantegna, the graphic design of the album has clear Renaissance references (her official website, her MySpace page, her blog and the scenery of her music videos are all in the same style). Lungs is available in many different versions: CD, mp3 (via iTunes), vinyl and an exclusive box-set with a hand-written letter from Florence. The box-set is a limited edition and it is available in a leather, suede and wool. All of this makes Florence a complete artist, and not just a singer or performer. So it should come as no surprise that Florence and the Machine is on the list of nominees for the 2009 Mercury Prize, competing against Bat For Lashes,
Friendly Fires, The Horrors and others. The competition is limited to British and Irish musicians, and has highlighted important bands like Portishead, Pulp, Franz Ferdinand and Klaxons. Lungs is a strong competitor because it pleases from start to finish. The first track, Dog Days are Over, sets the mood of the album with enthusiasm and optimism, as it encourages us all to appreciate good moments in life. Kiss With a Fist plays with the idea of a crazy relationship. Youâ€™ve Got The Love sweetly describes a feeling not so easy to illustrate â€“ love. And it wraps up the record beautifully. Florence and the Machine thrilled critics and the public in record time. That merit goes to its stunning front woman, who put her heart (and lungs!) into the project. Lungs is a light, fun and unconventional album. The redhead who rocked England is ready to take over the world.