Florence & The Machine – Dance Fever Review
If you were to ask anyone who some of the greatest artists of all time are, they’d probably say something along the lines of The Beatles, Amy Winehouse, David Bowie, Queen, ABBA etc. I’d also say those same artists, with the addition of Florence + The Machine. Why? Because since the release of their debut single “Kiss With A Fist” in 2008, they have continuously stretched the boundaries of music, making every track they make incredible. In 2009, when their debut album, “Lungs” came out, lead singer Florence Welch’s unique vocals and the instant sound of harps made people know that this was Florence + The Machine, everyone knew their sound whether they liked them or not.
I’m a big fan of Florence + The Machine and was incredibly honoured when I was sent her fifth studio album, “Dance Fever”. I couldn’t be more excited. Her first three records, “Lungs”, “Ceremonials” and “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” are all five-star albums in my opinion, with her most recent record before this one, “High As Hope” getting a solid four stars, but it didn’t have as much of an impact as the others, it felt as though it was missing something. It’s a record I rarely come back to, both as a Florence fan and as a big music geek. This is why I’m slightly apprehensive going into “Dance Fever”, could the spark that Florence once had be fading? Well, we’re about to find out…
The album opens with “King”, the lead single to the record, and I instantly fell in love with it on first listen, and this was elevated knowing that I was about to hear the full Dance Fever album. The track sets the atmosphere and tone of the record expertly, with some fantastic vocals, a great tone and some phenomenal production, it works in every single way, and it’s one of the best album openings I’ve heard in recent years. Musicians, take note: THIS is how you start an album. Moving onto Florence’s most recent single, “Free”, which I deliberately didn’t listen to until I heard the album in full, here we have a whole new sound for the band, which works incredibly well. This song encapsulates euphoria, with the production showcasing the main message of the song, and Welch’s incredible vocals shining through in a way that we’ve never heard before, it’s refreshing. The repetition throughout the song, especially of the line “I am free” makes you feel pride and made me tear up, denoting that the narrative of the song is exquisitely written. It’s fantastic in every single way.
One of my favourite things in music is when artists do spoken word, and as a poet herself, I was surprised that Welch had never included spoken word in any of her material and was something I’ve wanted to see for a long time, and we finally get that in “Choreomania”. It’s only for a few lines, but it’s performed so beautifully. The poetry and the songwriting of the track is a real standout, as with her vocals and sensational production, which accompanies that poetry perfectly. It’s a brilliant track that encapsulates the album’s central theming of showcasing dance styles through her music and the anxieties of lockdown incredibly well. “Back In Town” is a slower song that once again, shows off Welch’s vocals which feel godlike and her incredible harmonies, which she is probably the best artist in the industry at executing. The songwriting here is so amazing that it brings me to tears time after time, something that is incredibly hard to do.
Four songs in and this is already one of the most emotional albums I’ve ever heard, but that’s nothing compared to “Girls Against God”, which also has remarkable vocals and production, but the highlight here is the songwriting, which transports you into the world of “Dance Fever”. The finale, which is completely acapella is vulnerable and incredibly haunting, helping to tell the narrative of this album even more so. I was also amazed by the transition into the Fleetwood Mac influenced song “Dream Girl Evil”, which showcases the atmosphere, the way the track puts you on the edge of your seat, haunts you but still makes you move your body is something I have never seen any song do. The production is some of the best I’ve heard this year, it’s amazing! This is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time, and it gets a standing ovation from me.
“Prayer Factory” is a terrifyingly haunting interlude which provides gorgeous vocals and textbook harmonies, adding to the horror that “Dance Fever” excellently provides. This is then succeeded by “Cassandra”, which gives us influences of classic Florence from the “Lungs” and “Ceremonials” eras, expertly showcasing the best of the strongest songs from that era, one of those being “What The Water Gave Me”, which is one of my favourite songs of all time. “Cassandra’s” careful build-up has some sensational production that has some of the best harmonies I may have ever heard in my life, with some beautiful spoken word. The song’s final minute is spine-tingling, which is so perfect that it made me sob, I wasn’t ready for what I heard. “Cassandra” could be in contention to be my favourite song of 2022, maybe up there with one of my all-time favourite songs. It’s absolutely perfect, something that’s fiendishly hard for me to say about any song.
“Heaven Is Here” was released as the second song from “Dance Fever”, and Florence stated on a social media post that she “wanted to make something monstrous” during lockdown and that this song was the “clamour of joy, fury and grief”, and I can’t explain it any better myself. It’s a song made for a dance recital, in the best way possible. It’s made as a creative endeavour and it’s a phenomenal piece of work. Followed by “Daffodil”, we have the most haunting song on the album, which is shown from the terrifying production putting you on the edge of your seat with Welch’s horror-stricken vocals, some great poetry here too. And that finale is fantastic, I won’t spoil it, but it goes in a direction that explains why this album has gone down more of the scary route, and it pays off.
“My Love” is the song a lot of people know from this album, and for good reason, as it’s a great pop song. It’s fantastic, euphoric and the perfect choice for a single. “Restraint” however is 48 seconds of pure bliss and would make for a great theme tune to an American horror TV series, it’s truly terrifying yet completely wonderful. “The Bomb” on the other hand has a softer tone than “Dance Fever’s” preceding tracks, and the songwriting is sublime once again and matched with Welch’s careful vocals, it works in every way imaginable. And finally, “Morning Elvis” makes a wonderful finale, showing off Dave Bayley’s amazing production, giving us the Florence + The Machine and Glass Animals collaboration we never knew we needed. It’s a soft ending, it’s fantastic, and it’s a wonderful ending to a wonderful album.
So there’s a lot I can say about “Dance Fever” as a whole, but I’m not going to make it an essay, but I will tell you this: “Lungs” is no longer the album that defines Florence + The Machine, “Dance Fever” is. The album has a narrative that is expertly showcased, uses horror tropes I’ve not heard used in music in a way like this before, has some of the best production I’ve heard this year and uses music in a way that is thought-provoking and wonderfully executed, well enough to make you cry and to leave a lasting impression for a very long time. If in years, this album isn’t looked upon as historic, I will be mind blown, as, genuinely, this is one of the greatest albums of the 2020’s so far, maybe of the 2000s and maybe even, one of the greatest albums of all time. “Dance Fever” shows the world that Florence + The Machine is one of the best bands of all time, and maybe now this album’s out, when I say that they are, I’ll get agreement instead of looks of confusion.
Ranking: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (way more if I could give any more). Pre-order ‘Dance Fever’ HERE Out 13th May
The entire album.
- Back in Town
- Girls Against God
- Dream Girl Evil
- Prayer Factory
- Heaven Is Here
- My Love
- The Bomb
- Morning Elvis