Precocious Brit Florence Welch fired a bullet into the head of the U.K. music scene in 2008 with the single "Kiss with a Fist," a punk-infused, perfectly juvenile summer anthem that had critics wiping the names Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, and Kate Nash from their vocabularies and replacing them with Florence and the Machine. While the comparisons were apt at the time, "Kiss with a Fist" turned out to be a red herring in the wake of the release of LUNGS, one of the most musically mature and emotionally mesmerizing albums of 2009. With an arsenal of weaponry that included the daring musicality of Kate Bush, the fearless delivery of Sin‚ad O'Connor, and the dark, unhinged vulnerability of Fiona Apple, the London native crafted a debut that not only lived up to the machine-gun spray of buzz that heralded her arrival, but easily surpassed it. Like Kate Bush, Welch has little interest (for the most part) in traditional pop structures, and her songs are at their best when they see something sparkle in the woods and veer off of the main trail in pursuit. "Kiss with a Fist," as good as it is, pales in comparison to stand-out cuts like "Dog Days Are Over," "Hurricane Drunk," "Drumming Song," "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," and "Cosmic Love," all of which are anchored to the earth by Welch's knockout voice (which hopefully in time will lose the occasional Natalie Merchant affectation), a truly impressive and intuitive trio of producers, and a backing band that sounds as intimate with the material as its creator.
Spin (p.76) - "On 'Dog Days Are Over,' she sings so delicately about a happiness that hits you 'like a train' that you feel protective."
Spin (p.33) - Ranked #8 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2009" -- "[The] debut has a decidedly slick veneer, making '80s New Romanticism feel like a fresh clarion call..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.58) - "Singer Florence Welch's immaculately constructed indie pop recalls Regina Spektor, but without the studied artiness..." -- Grade: A-
Entertainment Weekly (p.104) - Included in Entertainment Weekly's 'The Best Albums of 2009' -- "LUNGS evokes generations of iconoclastic females...but doesn't surrender Welch's own spectacular voice for a moment."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[With] garage rock, epic soul, pint-tipping Britbeat, and -- best of all -- a mystic brand of pop that's part Annie Lennox, Grace Slick and Joanna Newsom."
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