Wednesday 24 August 2011

Florence + The Machine - What The Water Gave Me

Speaking to NME about her new track, Welch said:

"I was writing the song and this book on symbolism was lying around, and it had the painting in it.  It's nice to mix the ordinary with extraordinary".

What The Water Gave Me is anything but ordinary, but it doesn't quite hit the heights of Welch's extraordinary Lungs.  The track is named after a painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and inspired by the death of Virgina Woolf ("Pockets full of stones").  It's the sort of subject matter that few artists would dare to touch, exploring the fantastical, the deathly and the extraordinary in an ode to the elements.

So what of the production?  It starts with a darker, ghostly sound but has a much heavier feel than her previous material.  When the chorus hits, the softly sung melody and its trills have a folky feel emphasised by the backing chorus which gives a sing-song quality - perfect for festivals.  Structurally, it's one long crescendo punctuated by a series of anticlimaxes, but even in the final epic chorus Welch's voice isn't given the space it needs to truly soar.  There's a much greater emphasis on guitars which overpower the vocals, displacing the harp for a far less ethereal sound.  And the lame video is pretty ordinary.

Welch is undoubtedly a master of her art, but What The Water Gave Me doesn't quite match the sublime Rabbit Heart or Cosmic Love.  It does, however, pave the way for a second extraordinary album.