Gary Flockhart: Florence is finally back in full flow

Florence and the machine. Pic: Comp

Florence and the machine. Pic: Comp

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THE last time this column chatted with Florence Welch of + The Machine fame, the flame-haired one with the megaphonic vocals was saying how her hectic schedule had taken its toll on her sanity.

“I can get quite lonely. I have weepy moments,” she said prior to her visit to the Corn Exchange, not that long after she’d shot to fame with the fastest and biggest selling debut album of that year, Lungs.

Fast forward five years and she seems to be in a happier place now, albeit having been through a break-up and a breakdown since the release of her second album, Ceremonials, in 2011.

Thanks to the huge success of her first two albums, Welch was given free rein to live how she wanted to live and do whatever she wanted to do – but much of the time was spent working out what exactly that was.

“I was just trying to navigate my 20s, after having been in the hermetic bubble of touring,” she explains. “You don’t have to deal with anything on tour. As long as the show is good, everything else is too. And then when you’re not on tour, there’s no big show at the end to absolve you or to reset you, and you have to sit with whatever’s left and dwell on it.”

Or make another album – which is precisely what she’s done.

Released this week, the positively titled How Big How Blue How Beautiful sees the singer teamed with super-producer Markus Dravs (Bjork, Arcade Fire, Coldplay), whose big, bombastic approach is well matched with Welch’s powerhouse pipes.

“There’s more of a flow to this record, and it’s definitely more refined,” says Welch.

And she’s right. Four years on from her sophomore album, Welch’s third offering sees her take giant strides in terms of songwriting and it’s her most mature record to date.

In a nutshell, if what you enjoy most about Florence + The Machine is their penchant for the dramatic, this album won’t disappoint.