Tag Archives: Florence and the Machine

Feist: Metals

28 Dec

Broken Social Scene member Feist’s fourth solo album is another one of highly-skilled Indie-Folk-Pop.

Feist has a powerful voice. Whilst she clearly has the capacity to belt every word out at the top of her lungs à la Florence and the Machine, in most of her songs she opts, rather, to sing softly and amplify her vocal recordings, resulting in a notably textured, dynamic and emotive vocal sound.

Feist also plays her dynamics well, oscillating swiftly between bare vocals backed by subtle acoustic guitar and the fuller sound created by prominent vocal harmonies in “The Circle married the Line”, and the final minute and a half of “Undiscovered First” – shouted boisterously over a strong, forceful percussion track – contributes to the entire album as a dynamical outlier, adding more sensitivity by comparison to tracks like “Cicadas and Gulls”.

In addition to emotively-harnessed vocals and skillful work with dynamics, Feist’s music is richly instrumentally-layered. “The Bad in Each Other” – strongly folk-influenced and garbed in wise, true lyrics – exemplifies this, and “Anti Pioneer”, interwoven with Jazz and Blues, displays an ear for tiny but memorable details in the soft, shrouded however poignant piano part that comes into it towards the end.

Feist’s music is excellently finished in terms of its instrumental composition, its dynamics, and of course the rare level of sensitivity in Feist’s vocals.

 

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I’m not a Ceremonial person.

18 Dec

“You enjoy Regina Spektor? You’re going to LOVE Florence and the Machine“.
“Sweet, I’ll give them a listen!”
The first speaker in this dialogue was wrong.

Perhaps Florence and her Machine started off on the wrong foot with me. My first impression of the talked-about band was their live desecration of Cold War Kids’ Hospital Beds, in which Florence Welch, strong and powerfully-harnessed though her vocals may be, failed to capture the original vulnerability of the song. Hearing her shout through one of Cold War Kids’ most poignant and empathetic masterpieces was like watching someone drown a single, delicate potted flower with a pressure-hose.

Whilst Florence can really belt out her notes without a blemish and works excellently with vocal trills, her voice to me lacks a depth of pitch that is an emotional as well as a sonic quality: whilst she is very eccentric and impassioned, this spirit of hers comes across in her music as force rather than feeling. Her near-constant vocally gunning-it translates from song to speech as shouting rather than simply speaking, constructing a distance between the singer and the listener, as though she is shouting because we are too far away from her (both physically and metaphysically) to hear her.

Florence’s latest album, Ceremonials, is well-constructed in its instrumental layering ( including a good  use of backing vocal harmonies), giving it a rich, finished sound, however the vocal melodies running through this album aren’t much that one wouldn’t’ve already picked up from the pop-rock they listened to in their early teens.

Despite my hangups, however, “Breaking Down” is an ironically-upbeat, brilliantly sardonic song about clinical depression never really leaving you alone.

Ceremonials is technically well put-together, however not magnanimously captivating. Florence Welch has attitude and a strong sense of self, but not enough musical sensitivity to draw me into her soundscape.