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Mo’ Flo And The Machine

from The Guardian UK

Go with the Flo

Florence and the Machine’s mad art-pop will be 2009’s most beautiful noise, says Sylvia Patterson

Florence and the Machine

Who’s that girl? … Florence and the Machine. Photograph: PR

It’s not every day you see a pop star standing on their head in the middle of a library in Lancaster but today is that very day. Florence Welch, 22, hoists her skinny, grey-denim-clad legs into the air above her grey and white striped T-shirt, ropes of peachy-red hair splaying outwards on the wooden floor. “Urgh!” she squawks, upside down, then keels over, gets up again and turns her manically wandering attention to her homemade multicoloured five-foot-long funeral wreath made of artificial flowers spelling out “FLORENCE”. Hoisting this into the air, she affixes it to the Large Print section shelves which provide tonight’s backdrop for her band, Florence And The Machine, comprising drummer, keyboard player and harpist, with Florence on howling vocals and a stand-up military drum. (Here in historic Lancaster, this is a winning council ruse to showcase new music, with other recent library sets from Bat For Lashes and Adele.)

First, though, we must go to a nearby pub and Florence knows the way; except she doesn’t, striding at a mighty clip for 15 minutes in exactly the wrong direction, gab-gab-gabbing all the way, until we’re almost out into the countryside. The pub, it turns out, is 100 yards away from the library and Florence is always getting lost (“In a wormhole, sometimes for days!” she laughs). Florence, of course, is not yet technically a pop star — her debut album isn’t due until May 2009 and probably won’t be entitled Fuck The Cake, Take The Ice Cream And I Think I Just Punched The Waiter (though that’s one of its joke titles) — but she will be soon enough and the pop world will rejoice.

The world hasn’t seen this kind of profoundly eccentric folk-art minstrel since Kate Bush trilled “Hello sky! Hello trees!” and skipped barefoot over the hillocks in the late-70s in a frock made out of fairy wings (though, in Florence’s case, this would be wings torn from mutilated dead fairies, with their eyes poked out). After Amy, Lily, Kate, Adele and all the idiosyncratic souls of the London chanteuse uprising, Florence Welch is a different kind of bonkers; a posho art school bohemian whose pulverising blues-pop contains no trace of a chirpy “innit”, more visceral Grimms’ Fairy Tales set in a Twilight Zone troubled by donkeys, birds and coffins.

This year, she’s released two singles on the independent Moshi Moshi label (once home to Hot Chip and Kate Nash). The first was the clattering skiffle-pop Kiss With A Fist — with lyrics about slapping and plate-smashing — a song that has been read as a comment on domestic violence. Florence is adamant it’s not, though. “If you’re a writer, you’re just expressing your perception of what’s going on,” she says. “These songs are all about highs and really intense lows …” Then there’s the thumping drums and yodelling yelps of new single Dog Days (a song Adam Ant would approve of). Now signed to Island Records, home of Amy Winehouse, Florence looks set set to skip barefoot through 2009 as a sort of surreal-folk PJ Harvey with lungs the size of the bellowing sails on an 18th-century ship.

[ click to read full article at The Guardian ]

Posted on November 23, 2008 by Editor

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