Star spotlight

Florence

and the Machine.

Have you heard them? Yes? Are they the most amazing band ever? Yes. You haven’t heard them? Did you know your life has just been the inside of a tunnel in the ground, in which occasionally an anteater’s tongue visits? You didn’t? Well now you do. It’s sad like that. I hope at least you gleaned comfort from the anteater’s warm sticky licks, before it spits saliva out in distaste when it finds out you aren’t the tasty ants it was looking for.

One of the best things about being in the States is, drumroll, artistes actually frequent this place! I know, it’s hard to get used to, considering the seasonless dot of a place I hail from, where bands remember our existence maybe once every five years, and F1 fans every one. I’m only here for a quarter, and boom, I find FatM, Stars, Metric, Foster the People performing in this very state. Justice? What is that? Present only in the form that keeps me from going bankrupt back in Singapore, I’m sure.

The first thing you should know about their music is: they have a harp. I don’t know what your instrumental preferences are, but with me, the harp is about the most magical musical instrument there is out there. It manages to have an ethereal sound – not too polished, like the piano can be; not screechy-ish, like the violin, with its sharp edge sound; not, well, common, like a guitar (I appreciate the guitar, but you have to admit it’s way more friendly than a goddamn harp. You’d go to a bar with a guitar. You most likely won’t with a harp, unless you are FatM invited to perform there). When you play a note on the harp, it manages to somehow make the note resonate upwards, in the sense that every note contains both that pitch itself, and a sort of airy flow behind it. Maybe you’re reading this and going wtf is she going on about, but that’s what the harp sounds like to me, and I love that it has that sort of dual tone.

Next, add the drums. What the hell! you exclaim. A harp and DRUMS? How do the two ever go together? It’s like, it’s like, I don’t know, soy sauce and whip cream! And that’s part of the magic that is Florence and the Machine – they root their songs down with the firm throb of drumming. People like to use classical music for elevators because it sounds airy, light, relaxing; I think having just pure classical instruments just makes the song too… abstract. FatM deftly weaves drums into their music, balances just the right amount of beat and sublimity, catchiness and, yknow, actual music.

Helping the harp is the organ, which adds a sort of religiousness, sacredness to it. And last, and best, of all– Florence Welch. Have you heard her? Have you heard her? Her voice is all of that – harp, organ, drums – combined. Just listen to her.

The first part which starts quiet, almost a whisper. The chorus that throws itself out into the air, as if possessed. The bridge that pleads, strengthens, fills the whole place up until all is just Florence. The chorus, again, that crashes it down powerfully.

Florence can be light too (and if you listen to the lyrics, darkly humorous):

Even the dance tracks (DANCE TRACKS. THE BANE OF ALL GOOD MUSIC. ONLY ONE LEVEL ABOVE RAP. SORRY DANCE TRACK LOVERS) she does become magical. Seriously, what can she not do?

Aaaand so that concludes my inaugural star spotlight. If you need more recommendations that are not “ALL THE TRACKS” I’ll suggest Rabbit Heart, Dog days are over, Cosmic love, What the water gave me to start you off, then move you on to Heartlines, Landscapes, Blinding, You’ve got the love, and I’m going to stop here before I start listing everything.

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