Florence is sad. She is actually sad, like Bjork has been the last few years. And it's ironic, because the album has been produced by Markus Dravs, the "Homogenic" producer. Her effort is more than honest, in order to show the world that she is hurting inside, and she is doing it with a sense of wisdom that is always poetic and metaphorical. So metaphorical, though, that you can feel she is more lost than hurt. Once again, don't get me wrong, I like the new album. It's just the fact that her emotions have surpassed her musical expectations. And, maybe, she was partly misguided, too, during the recording sessions.
She always has a vision of her sound. This time, guitars and brass arrangements (by Goldfrapp's Will Gregory) have become her thing, which is great. We needed that and she can own it, vocally and musically. But when you check the first track, "Ship To Wreck", it feels like you are listening to a Smiths cover (a good one, of course), not a Florence new sophisticated composition. Then, "What Kind Of Man" comes forward with its self-confidence and you want to dance until you bleed with her Alanis-esque anger and raw brass/guitar production. Right after, "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful", "Queen of Peace", "Various Storms & Saints" and "Long & Lost" come along and you feel like she is finally sounding like she is supposed to sound. And you are happy.
With the fourth single, "Delilah", she is bringing back the powerhouse Florence, using epic orchestration and vocal arrangement. And then, cheesy guitar themes again with "Caught". It's so wrong to put that song after "Delilah" and "Long & Lost", cause it's too small and non Florence. The new Florence rises above the ashes again with the epic "Third Eye", the sentimentally overwhelming and simple - but not simplistic - "St Jude" and the co-written and co-produced by Paul Epworth "Mother", which, and let's face it, is a triumphant outro.
This third album for the band, at the end of the day, is not complete. Something is missing. Her emotions are all there. Her artistry is all there. Her voice is the most important instrument in the songs and the production is flawless. But what about the songwriting? It feels like she had more to write, more to sing and more to showcase after 4 years. When "Mother" is done, I'm still waiting for another 4 or 5 great songs to feel her pain, her despair, her original vision. But, like I said, her emotions have surpassed her (or my) musical expectations.