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Florence + The Machine
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence + The Machine — How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (June 2, 2015)

  Florence + The Machine — How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
♣  3x GOLD: Australia, Poland, United Kingdom. 12x Peak position #1. That voice is still in gloriously full effect, but Flo curtails the bombast for a more restrained, introspective third album
♣  Welch lives with her mother, younger sister, younger brother, stepfather, two half–brothers, and half–sister.    
Birth name: Florence Leontine Mary Welch
Born: 28 August 1986, Camberwell, England
Location: UK
Album release: June 2, 2015
Record Label: Island Records / Republic
Duration:     48:50 + 20:59 => 69:49
Tracks:
01 Ship to Wreck     3:55
02 What Kind of Man     3:36
03 How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful     5:35
04 Queen of Peace     5:07
05 Various Storms & Saints     4:09
06 Delilah     4:54
07 Long & Lost     3:15
08 Caught     4:24
09 Third Eye     4:20
10 St. Jude     3:45
11 Mother     5:50
12 Hiding (Bonus Track)     3:52
13 Make Up Your Mind (Bonus Track)     4:01
14 Which Witch (Demo) [Bonus Track]     4:19
15 Third Eye (Demo) [Bonus Track]     4:15
16 How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Demo) [Bonus Track]     4:32
℗ 2015 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited
Written by:
♣  Florence Welch Tom Hull     1
♣  Welch Harpoon John Hill     2
♣  Welch Isabella Summers     3
♣  Welch Markus Dravs     4, 5
♣  Welch Summers     6, 14, 16
♣  Welch Ester Dean     7
♣  Welch James Ford     8, 10, 12
♣  Welch     9, 15
♣  Welch Paul Epworth     11
♣  Welch Harpoon     13
Personnel:
Florence and the Machine
♣  Florence Welch — lead and backing vocals
♣  Isabella Summers — piano, strings, synthesizer, celesta, backing vocals
♣  Robert Ackroyd — guitar
♣  Christopher Lloyd Hayden — drums, percussion, backing vocals
♣  Tom Monger — harp, bass guitar
♣  Mark Saunders — bass guitar, percussion, guitar, backing vocals
Technical personnel:
♣  Markus Dravs — production
♣  Paul Epworth — production (track 11)
♣  Will Gregory — brass arrangement
♣  Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, NYC — mastering                                             CREDITS:
♣  Leo Abrahams Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
♣  Rob Ackroyd Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Ukulele
♣  Max Baillie Viola
♣  John Barclay Piccolo Trumpet, Trumpet
♣  Nick Barr Viola
♣  Mat Bartram Engineer, String Engineer
♣  Robin Baynton Engineer, Fender Rhodes, Organ, Piano, String Engineer
♣  Ian Belton Violin
♣  Iain Berryman Assistant Engineer, Body Percussion, Cornet, Engineer, Guitar (Acoustic), Harmonium, Piano
♣  Nigel Black French Horn
♣  Fiona Bonds Viola
♣  Natalia Bonner Violin
♣  Rusty Bradshaw Piano
♣  Ian Burdge Cello
♣  Gillon Cameron Violin
♣  Elise Campbell French Horn
♣  Philip Cobb Trumpet, Trumpet Flugelhorn
♣  Nick Cooper Cello
♣  Dan Cox Engineer
♣  Andy Crowley Trumpet
♣  Eduardo De La Paz Mixing Assistant
♣  Ester Dean Composer
♣  Alison Dods Violin
♣  Markus Dravs Body Percussion, Composer, Glockenspiel, Guitar (Electric), Percussion, Producer, Programming, Synthesizer, Synthesizer Bass, Woodwind Arrangement
♣  Phillip Eastop French Horn
♣  Richard Edwards Trombone (Tenor)
♣  Paul Epworth Bass, Composer, Drums, Guitar, Organ, Percussion, Producer, Synthesizer
♣  James Ford Composer, Programming, Woodwind Arrangement
♣  James Hallawell Farfisa Organ, Organ, Organ (Hammond), Piano
♣  Sophie Harris Cello
♣  Pete Harrison Bassoon
♣  Chris Hayden Drums, Percussion
♣  Ali Helnwein Brass Arrangement, String Arrangements
♣  Sally Herbert Brass Arrangement, Brass Conductor, Conductor, Flute Arrangement, Orchestration, String Arrangements, Woodwind Arrangement
♣  John Hill Brass Arrangement, Composer, Producer, Synthesizer
♣  Tom Hull Composer
♣  Ian Humphries Violin
♣  Matt Ingram Drums, Percussion
♣  Sam Jacobs French Horn
♣  Ted Jensen Mastering
♣  Steve Jones Guitar (Electric)
♣  Joe Kearns Engineer
♣  Kid Harpoon Bass, Brass Arrangement, Drums, Guitar (Electric), Percussion, Producer, Synthesizer
♣  Patrick Kiernan Violin
♣  Rick Koster Violin
♣  Oli Langford Violin
♣  Eliza Marshall Flute, Flute (Alto)
♣  Oren Marshall Tuba
♣  Janelle Martin Vocals (Background)
♣  Ciaran McCabe Violin
♣  Nims Miller Vocals (Background)
♣  Ann Morfee Violin
♣  Baby N'sola Vocals (Background)
♣  Everton Nelson Violin
♣  Daniel Newell Flugelhorn, Piccolo Trumpet, Trumpet
♣  Will Owen Brass Arrangement, String Arrangements
♣  Pete Prokopiw Cimbalom, Harp, Programming
♣  Richard Pryce Bass
♣  Ian Rathbone Viola
♣  Tom Rees–Roberts Trumpet
♣  Rachel Robson Viola
♣  Ronan Phelan Assistant Engineer
♣  Jonathan Sagis Assistant Engineer
♣  Mark Saunders Bass
♣  Lucy Shaw Bass
♣  Craig Silvey Mixing
♣  Emlyn Singleton Violin
♣  Julia Singleton Violin
♣  Sonia Slany Violin
♣  John Smart Violin
♣  Mark "Spike" Stent Mixing
♣  Isabella Summers Composer, Fender Rhodes
♣  Geoff Swan Mixing Assistant
♣  Ed Tarrant Euphonium
♣  Florence Welch Body Percussion, Composer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
♣  Bruce White Viola
♣  Andy Wood Euphonium, Trombone
♣  Rebecca Wood Cor Anglais, Oboe
♣  Chris Worsey Cello                                                                                          Commercial performance:
♣  In its first week of sales, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful topped charts in eight countries: United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, Australia and New Zealand. The album also reached top–ten positions in ten more countries.
♣  It was the band's first album to ever reach number one position on the US Billboard 200 selling 137,000 copies, 128,000 pure album sales. In Canada, the album sold 19,000 in its first week to debut at number one. In the UK, it sold just under 70,000 copies, topping the UK Albums Chart.
REVIEW
Kitty Empire, Sunday 31 May 2015 09.00 BST; Score: ***
♣  How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, the title of the third album by Florence and the Machine, looks up and marvels at the sky above Los Angeles. Within the opening retro guitar shimmer of Ship to Wreck, you can tell America and its sounds have increased their hold on Florence Welch, a singer previously best understood as a very British eccentric, one gifted with a megaphone for a larynx and a dressing–up box turned up to 11.
♣  Over two hit albums — 2009’s Lungs and 2011’s Ceremonials — Welch’s obsession with Opheliatic drowning has been worked through. In the four years since Ceremonials, the tribal drums have been muted, the harps axed. In their place are big, flouncy references to 70s Fleetwood Mac and quieter nods to Laurel Canyon, the call–and–response of Motown (Delilah specifically) and the feeling of driving around with the top down, “every skyline” like “a kiss upon the lips”.
♣  Keep listening and the album title begins to seem like an aide memoire that Welch might have affixed to the mixing desk where she and new producer Markus Dravs (Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Arcade Fire) thrashed out these 11 tracks: make it sound big, make it sound blue, make it sound beautiful.
♣  Is it big? You don’t go to Welch (or Dravs) for intimate miniatures of domestic still lives, and HBHBHB keeps up both music–makers’ reputations for voluminous layers. There are quieter songs here, of course — Long & Lost is the album’s sneaky grower, Caught is soulful, if a tad sluggish — but the musical drama remains highly strung. Brass fanfares on the title track suggest the distant glory of lasting love; the closing Mother is a retro rhythm’n’blues–inspired finale that aims to strip paint at 100 paces. Welch’s vocals are multi–tracked and backed by yet more vocals; she is legion.
♣  It certainly is blue too. Welch’s love life has not been as blessed as her musical career, so HBHBHB finds her circling the drain of an imploded relationship, this time with novel directness. The album’s knockout track, What Kind of Man, establishes this particular love with a pregnant, atmospheric intro — “and with one kiss,” sings Welch delicately, “you inspired a fire of devotion” — and then details its frustrations with a thumping great brass–strafed rock song. “You let me dangle! At cruel angle!” she bellows, “What kind of man loves like this?”
♣  Third Eye is equally scathing — “There’s a hole where your heart lies/ And I can see it with my third eye,” Welch hollers in full–on, arms–crossed, banshee tick–off mode — reuniting her briefly with the thumping drums of her previous incarnations. Her lungpower is all the more thrilling when fuelled by this kind of righteous ire; you just wish she would stay mad longer.
♣  She doesn’t, because this is a well–balanced mainstream release that requires ebb and flow; redemption and ballads. The politer yin to all this energising yang is the album’s big ballad, St Jude, which pairs Welch with a lub–dub cardiac beat, hovering keys and a ladylike vocal bereft of multi–tracking, invoking the patron saint of lost causes. It’s not as stirring as when she’s angry, but it’s the sort of track that ensures its singer’s trajectory, like her gaze, remains upwards.
♣  http://www.theguardian.com/                                                                            ♣  The much–anticipated third studio long–player from Florence Welch and her mechanically inclined companions, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful arrives after a period of recalibration for the spirited English songtress. Arriving three–and–a–half years after 2011’s well–received Ceremonials, the 11–track set, the first Florence + the Machine album to be produced by Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Coldplay), eschews some of the bombast and water — and death–fixated metaphors of Lungs and Ceremonials in favor of a more restrained sonic scope and an honest reckoning with the dark follies of your late twenties. This change is most notable on the workmanlike opener "Ship to Wreck," a shimmering, open road–ready folk–rock rumination on the ambiguity/inevitability of post–fame self–destruction that, unlike prior first cuts like "Dog Days Are Over" and "Only If for a Night," feels firmly rooted in the now.
♣  Whether it be simple maturity or Dravs' calculated production style, there's no denying that an effort has been made to dial back a bit on some of the pageantry of Welch's earlier works, and for the most part, her penchant for pairing mystic Bronte–esque pondering with similarly windswept pagan/gothic gospel rock is left bubbling beneath the surface. This attempt to reign in Welch's more histrionic tendencies yields mixed results, with some songs finding the sweet spot between bluster and nuance and others (most of them in the album's sleepy latter half) disappearing altogether. Of the former, the bluesy (and ballsy) "What a Man," the propulsive and purposeful "Delilah," and the gorgeous title track impress the most. Instead of building to a fevered crescendo, as is the Flo–Machine way, the latter cut, a transcendent, slow–burning, chamber pop gem, dissolves into a simple and elegant, yet still goose–bump–inducing round of horns, and is breathtaking without knocking the wind out of you. ♣  Whether How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful ends up being a transitional album remains to be seen, as there is enough of each side of Welch (the pastoral and the feral) represented to tip the scale either way. That said, her Brit–pop soul treacle is still miles better than some of her contemporaries' top–tier offerings, and when the album connects it moves right in and starts to redecorate, but when it falters, it’s akin to a chatty party guest failing to realize that everyone else has gone home.                Editorial Reviews
♣  For Florence Welch, the success of her first two Florence + the Machine albums Lungs (2009) and Ceremonials (2011) meant five years of back–to–back recording, promoting and touring. Lungs ran straight into the making, promoting and touring of the Grammy–nominated Ceremonials, an album written while on the road and recorded straight after coming off tour. The shows were getting bigger, the hair redder, the success wider and wilder.
HOW BLUE
♣  A pop star at 21, with two international hit albums behind her, Florence discovered that in giving seven years to her music, some elements of real life had been left by the wayside. Coming back from tour and moving out of her mother s Camberwell home, Florence re–engaged with normal life: going out, falling in and out of love, and simply trying to learn how to look after herself outside of the hermetic bubble of life of the road.
♣  It was sort of a crash landing Florence freely admits, I guess although I ve always dealt in fantasy and metaphor when I came to writing, that meant the songs this time were dealing much more in reality. Ceremonials was so fixated on death and water, and the idea of escape or transcendence through death, but the new album became about trying to learn how live, and how to love in the world rather than trying to escape from it. Which is frightening because I m not hiding behind anything but it felt like something I had to do.
♣  And so the new Florence, and her songs, started to swim into focus.                       HOW BEAUTIFUL
♣  The result is How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, a collection of songs, written and recorded over the course of 2014. Produced by Markus Dravs (Björk, Arcade Fire, Coldplay) with contributions from Paul Epworth, Kid Harpoon and John Hill, the third album by Florence + the Machine is live-sounding, tune–rich, unhinged in all the right places and powerful in all the best ways. In voice and, ultimately, outlook Florence has never sounded better.
♣  Markus has done a few Arcade Fire albums, Florence tells us, and he s done Björk s Homogenic, which is a huge record for me. And I felt he had that balance of organic and electronic capabilities, managing those two worlds. And, you know, he s good with big sounds. And I like big sounds. And he s good with trumpets, and I knew I wanted a brass section on this record, she adds of a group of musicians who were arranged by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp.
♣  And with Markus, Florence continues, clarifying, I wanted to make something that was big but that had a gentleness to it. That had a warmth, that was rooted. I think that s why we went back more to the live instruments. Something that was band–led almost.
♣  A prime example is the future Florence classic Ship To Wreck: it opens the album, and showcases Florence and Dravs enthusiasm for reframing her distinctive voice.
♣  Ship To Wreck was written with Kid Harpoon, the London–based songwriter/producer with whom she d written Ceremonials Grammy–nominated Shake It Out , during a month–long creative furlough in Los Angeles that also yielded first single What Kind Of Man : a full–force ear–pinning anthem of uplifting defiance.
♣  Kid Harpoon is one of a clutch of old collaborator friends who reunited to help marshal these most personal of songs. Ceremonials producer Paul Epworth helped create the album closing psychedelic blues explosion Mother, while the inner–circle of her nearest and dearest was rounded out by her bandmate and long–time studio right–hand–woman Isa Summers, with whom she wrote the epic title track.
♣  How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was the first song I wrote for this record, literally as I just came off tour, she explains, and then I went off and had this incredibly chaotic year, and that all went into the record. But in the end, the feeling of How Big How Blue is what...
Also:
BY WILL HERMES June 2, 2015;  Score: ***½
♣  http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/florence-and-the-machine-how-big-how-blue-how-beautiful-20150602
By Douglas Wolk; June 2, 2015;  Score: 7.6
♣  http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/20605-how-big-how-blue-how-beautiful/
By: Andrew Unterberger // June 4, 2015;  Score: 7
♣  http://www.spin.com/2015/06/review-florence-machine-how-big-how-blue-how-beautiful/
BY MICHAEL MADDEN ON JUNE 03, 2015, 6:01AM;  SCORE: B+
♣  http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/06/album-review-florence-and-the-machine-how-big-how-blue-how-beautiful/
By Leonie Cooper, May 19, 2015;  Score: 8/10
♣  http://www.nme.com/reviews/florence-and-the-machine/16081

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Florence + The Machine
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

 

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