Album Review: Dance Fever, Florence + The Machine

When Florence Welch encountered the medieval concept of ‘choreomania’, she felt an instant resonance with the desire to release all tension and dance. Using this, Welch indulged in inspiration for her new project. The product, Dance Fever, is one as unique as Welch’s formidable vocal, steeped in iconic theatricality and laced with antitheses: the ecstatic […]

When Florence Welch encountered the medieval concept of ‘choreomania’, she felt an instant resonance with the desire to release all tension and dance. Using this, Welch indulged in inspiration for her new project.

The product, Dance Fever, is one as unique as Welch’s formidable vocal, steeped in iconic theatricality and laced with antitheses: the ecstatic and the sombre, the angelic and the satanic, the mundane and the extraordinary.  Eerie choral euphoria underpins a plethora of mythological metaphors in Florence + The Machine’s aptly named latest album – it embodies an unnerving combination of both liberating physicality and the chokehold of a fever dream.

Opening with “King” and “Free”, the record instantly displays thematic remnants of the pandemic during which it was conceived. “I am free”, declares Welch, an assertion all the more striking in the emancipation of a post-lockdown world. From the almost belligerent ritualistic chanting in the delivery of “Heaven Is Here”, to the melodic and folky “The Bomb”, Dance Fever is a fairy-tale in musical form. The legendary mysticality of the piece further serves to elevate contemporary themes of feminine liberative expression in “Girls Against God”, while recurrent reference to spirituality reinforces the medieval folkloric stimuli of the material.

Instrumentally there is an overarching modesty of the piece in comparison with the iconic anthems of albums past. While the production is superbly layered, polished with input from Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Lorde) and Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley – alt-rock foundations are enhanced with infusions of synth-based electronic pop and folk – “My Love” is perhaps the track most reminiscent of the Florence we know and, for fans, Dance Fever has the potential to fall short of expectations at first glance. It is above all, however, the vulnerable lyricism from which this body of material finds its intrepid heart. Welch’s lyrical gravity surpasses sufficient compensation for the overall lessening of energy comparative to that seen in the likes of “You’ve Got The Love” and “Shake It Out”. Ultimately, it still bears the melodramatic hallmark of Welch’s passion, though this time it is inwardly directed in lavish statement of self-evaluative examination.

Poeticising the examination of one’s own psyche with an unapologetic authenticity is a task which Welch approaches with intrinsic flair and extravagance. Welch is an artist known for pushing the boundaries of extremity, and this time it is no different as each track tiptoes lyrically between candid and alluringly ostentatious.

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