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A Female Powerhouse: Florence Welch and her Machine

Posted by Brittany Barth on 09/19 at 08:30 AM

Florence Welch, the driving force behind Florence and the Machine, is a powerhouse. Her vocals are unmatched. Every word she sings is performed determinedly. Every band currently lead by a female singer pales in comparison to Florence Welch. Her voice is truly a force to be reckoned with. And so is her music.

When “Dog Days Are Over” was performed at the MTV Video Music Awards back in 2010, I do not believe that world was prepared for Florence and her Machine.  It quickly became evident what we were dealing with: a female lead singer who could kick some serious ass behind the microphone.

The band debuted their album Lungs in 2011, establishing themselves as a band who knew how to write great music. The album has a theme that is both mystical and imaginative. If Lewis Carroll were to give Alice a soundtrack to her life, he would choose Lungs.

The album is quite lengthy, including twenty-four songs total. While every song is just as good as the one before it, each song has something different to offer it’s listeners.  “You’ve Got the Love”, “Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)” and “Cosmic Love” (which was featured in the previews for Water For Elephants) are the showstoppers of the album. These songs share the same delicate, heavenly sound, which burst into choruses filled with heart.

The album is heavily orchestrated and the overall sound is reminiscent of gospel music. Songs such as, “Heavy In Your Arms,” “Are You Hurting The One You Love” and “Swimming” showcase so much harmony, soul and body. Like the other songs on her album, Florence eases you into each of these songs and then shocks you, by having the song transform and explode into something completely different than what you originally expected.

Lungs proved to the world that Florence and the Machine were here to stay.

Then there is their second album Ceremonials. It’s been a year since Florence and the Machine released this album, and I’m wondering why it took me this long to listen to the album in it’s entirety. I wonder especially considering what a smash hit Lungs was, and how I had listened to that album on repeat time and time again. When I heard the Ceremonials’ single, “No Light, No Light” on the radio this past summer, I became obsessed. If this song was any indicator as to what the rest of the album would be like, I knew it would be as great, if not better, than Lungs.

The first half of Ceremonials remains quite tame and ethereal. Florence serenades you, luring you toward her with her voice, keeping you close. The second half of the album, beginning with “No Light, No Light,” is where the album transforms into something else. Every song from the seventh track on is overcome with passion, life, and mind blowing sound. The songs on the second half of the album are not just songs. They are anthems. Every song makes you feel triumphant, like you’ve won the war you’ve been battling, like no one else possesses the power that you do.

“No Light, No Light” and “Seven Devils” are the best examples of these anthems Florence has created. Both of the songs are an explosion of sound and of emotion. They are both musical materpieces. However, each song sounds entirely different from the other.

When listening to “No Light, No Light” you can feel Florence’s desperation, hear her begging, pleading, for her lover to stay. You can feel her hopelessness, her sorrow. There is an energy which runs through this song which cannot be found anywhere else on the album.

When listening to “Seven Devils”, you feel fear. It is the complete opposite of what “No Light, No Light” is. The song is haunting, unearthly, frightening. Florence’s disgust of the subject in question is evident. She proclaims how she wants to exorcise herself of the love she once felt for this person, how she plans to destroy the life of whom she once called a lover. It is a song fueled by anger, which is something I have never experienced from Florence.

However if you’re looking for a song to uplift your soul, listen to “Shake It Out.” It is a song that reminds us to forget our regrets: they become such a heavy burden upon us. It is a song that reminds us that “it’s always darkest before the dawn,” and to remain courageous through our hardest times. It is a song of hope, a song that will lift your spirits.

This is an album that pleases every audience. It has everything you could want out of an album.

When Lungs was released I thought, “She cannot possibly do any better than this.” She proved me wrong with Ceremonials. I cannot wait to see what Florence has planned for the future and what she will produce from her Machine.

{name} Author: Brittany Barth
Bio: My name is Brittany Barth, an English major currently in my senior year at Penn State. I am a lover of food, John Mayer, all things nautical and cats. It has always been a dream of mine to be the lead singer of a (successful) band. After graduation, my goal is to become a Young Adult fiction novelist, but I would love to be an advice columnist prior to that. I am excited about graduation and what the future holds for me!


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