5. Florence + The Machine, “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”


If sophomore slump Ceremonials was cause for alarm that Florence Welch might never match her brilliant debut, Lungs, rest assured it turned out an aberration; nor does LP number three play like a sequel to either record (for one thing, there’s barely any harp on it). Instead, she takes advantage of that old trope that the most inspiring and affecting art often comes from turmoil rather than happiness and thank god, ‘cause her commanding, fiery presence is ideal for such a song cycle. She’s never sounded more alive or direct—cranking up the guitars certainly helps, but so do the stunning orchestral arrangements, especially on “Queen of Peace”, making what was a great tune to begin with (killer chorus, unexpected Motown rhythm) even better. Impeccably sequenced and masterfully performed, it firmly places Welch back on track—I’m now a little more confident she has a Hounds of Love in her.

Favorite tracks: “Ship To Wreck”, “What Kind of Man”, “Queen of Peace”, “Delilah”

“Queen Of Peace/Long and Lost”:

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