After a brief hiatus, indie group Florence + the Machine has announced the release of its third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The album is set to drop on June 2. Two songs and videos have already been released, leaving fans chomping at the bit for festival season. The past two years were rocky for front woman Florence Welch. After the whirlwind success of the band’s debut album Lungs, and follow-up record Ceremonials Welch needed some time off from the music scene. Finally, the heavily anticipated music video for the album’s title track was released on Feb. 10. The video for “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” stays true to Welch’s signature theatrical style—with a minimalist spin. The video features Welch dancing with a clone of herself. The two dance beside a stone pool surrounded by lush, green trees and stone walls.
The style of the video matches the song. It is slow and dramatic, yet uncomplicated. Welch’s haunting voice is accompanied by a horn section that swells as the song progresses. The melody is simplistic, but is enhanced by Welch’s belting, soulful voice. The brass section gives the song a floaty, dreamlike quality. “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” is the perfect opening track for the eponymous album, building the listener’s excitement without being overwhelming.
The first official single off the album is titled “What Kind of Man.” This video was released two days after the title track, and the style from this one is markedly different. It has a darker, more filmic quality and contains a dialogue in the beginning. The video features Welch with her love interest, but the plot is unclear. What begins as a simple car ride between the two progresses into scenes of dancing on city balconies, car crashes, drowning and an uncomfortable dance scene between Welch and several men that is strongly suggestive of sexual violence.
What makes this video striking is the contrast between the scenes––sensuality and violence juxtaposed with peacefulness and chaos fits the feeling of the song. What starts as a soft croon builds into a stomping, tambourine-heavy cry for love. The style of “What Kind of Man” is reminiscent of the band’s earlier work, particularly “Dog Days Are Over” which features similar pounding drums and vocals.
If these two tracks are indicative of the rest of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, patient Florence fans will not be disappointed. While remaining true to the band’s original sound, these songs have a new level of sincerity and passion. The band is exploring new stylistic options with the raw sound of live instruments, working side-by-side with producer Markus Dravs.
For anyone attending a festival this summer, Florence + the Machine will be a must-see. Welch’s dramatic presence translates perfectly into live performances, and this new sound should make for an unforgettable show.