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Florence and the Machine - Dance Fever Music Album Reviews

Florence and the Machine - Dance Fever Music Album Reviews
Florence Welch’s pandemic album turns her intensity inward, interrogating her relationship to performance and public image. These are her most personal lyrics, and among her most poignant.

Just before the pandemic, Florence Welch read about choreomania, the medieval European “dancing plague,” wherein hordes of people would flail and twitch until they reached exhaustion, injury, or death. Welch became obsessed with the concept. Entering her mid-30s, nearly 15 years into a career that began when she drunkenly sang to her future manager in a club bathroom, she wanted to prod at her relationship to performance. When she started releasing records, her stadium-shaking voice and songs that crescendoed to catharsis lifted her into the pop charts alongside Adele and Bruno Mars. Four albums in, though, Florence and the Machine is an institution, and Florence Welch, the person, seemed rattled by how much she relied on it. She conceived her fifth album, Dance Fever, as a “‘be careful for what you wish for’ fable,” she told the New York Times; as she read more about the dancing that spread like sickness, she thought about what it would be like to give up performing altogether. And then, a week after she started making the songs that would become Dance Fever alongside Jack Antonoff, lockdown hit.

From those uncanny origins, the new album arrives as a sweeping, grandiose statement, no less outsized than Welch’s past releases but more internal and lyrically cohesive. The songs concern devils and angels and life and death, but Dance Fever is more fascinating as a self-interrogation—these are Welch’s most personal lyrics, and among her most poignant. “Every song I wrote became an escape rope tied around my neck to pull me up to heaven,” she rasps at the end of “Heaven Is Here,” and that horror at her own compulsions reverberates throughout the album. On Dance Fever, Welch stays trapped indoors, sobbing into bowls of cereal at midnight, trying to comfort herself with the crumbs of her own image. She built her public persona by beaming the grandest, fiercest emotions out to a crowd; left alone, she turns that intensity inward.

Unlike another Antonoff-produced pandemic reverie, Lorde’s Solar Power, Welch struggles against the wisdom she seeks to impart; we hear her wrestling with the knowledge she’s acquired, not merely delivering it. She sees herself as a projection, not a person, and she’s terrified by her impulse to self-mythologize. In the spoken-word section that opens “Choreomania,” she traces the contours of an anxiety attack: “I am freaking out in the middle of the street with the complete conviction of someone who has never had anything actually really bad happen to them,” she says in a crisp monotone. The pandemic is a constant presence: She sings about her friends getting sick, about the joy and futility of the mundane. The stakes are high, but too often, she tries to convey the album’s scary-movie sensibilities by contorting her voice into a howl or a croak. The theatrics distract from the more satisfying drama, as the image of an auteur who equates work with worth collides with Welch’s attempts at intimacy.

She examines this tension most strikingly on “King,” the album’s opener. The track chugs along over subdued percussion before it swells into classic, titanic Welch, belting over harp. She argues with a lover about the endpoints of her ambition, whether art is useless, if she can build a version of motherhood that would mesh into her own mythology. “I am no mother/I am no bride/I am king,” she howls. Welch’s ambivalence about motherhood is a central theme. “I feel like to have a child and to let that amount of love in.… I’ve spent my life trying to run away from these big feelings,” she told Vogue. “Big feelings” are practically Welch’s brand, but on Dance Fever, she bristles at them. “What a thing to admit,” she starts off the lilting, Maggie Rogers-assisted “Girls Against God,” “but when someone looks at me with real love, I don’t like it very much.” Welch stamps these stark admissions throughout the album, little lacerations tucked into the bass and trumpets. At times, she reaches for profundity and stumbles into hyperbole. “If I was free to love you, you wouldn’t want me, would you,” she laments on “The Bomb,” comparing love to literal destruction: collapsing buildings, burning skin.

The album sags when it attempts its stated purpose: to celebrate dance itself. Partly this is because of just how disparate these tracks feel, likely as a result of their bifurcated production. Antonoff produced most of the first half of the album, and he shares a writing credit on many of those tracks; the latter half is largely produced by Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley. Dance Fever is as propulsive as any Florence and the Machine album, but its momentum sometimes feels unearned. Bayley twists “My Love” into a schmaltzy club track, kicking off with what seems like a trite Hamilton reference: “I was always able to write my way out,” Welch coos over finger snaps. Her past EDM collaborations sparkled—none more than the Calvin Harris-produced “Sweet Nothing”—but “My Love” is too stilted to open up a dancefloor. Even “Free,” perhaps the most buoyant song on the album, eventually becomes flimsy. It’s an ode to the power of dance, the freedom in movement—well-worn concepts that Welch treats like novel ideas.

But there’s a moment when the cello slows to a sputter and the frenetic drums ease up, and she seems to think out loud. “Is this how it’s always been,” she muses, “to exist in the face of suffering and death, and somehow still keep singing?” On another album, where the stakes were anything less than life and death, this question might be overwrought. But Dance Fever works best when Welch asks questions, when she’s a witness to terror and absurdity, marveling at her own ability to make it through.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Florence and the Machine - Dance Fever Music Album Reviews Florence and the Machine - Dance Fever Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, May 21, 2022 Rating: 5

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