ALBUM REVIEW: How Big How Blue How Beautiful by Florence + the Machine
by Brendon Zatirka
I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this album for years, and at last we have it. On June 2nd 2015, Florence + the Machine dropped How Big How Blue how Beautiful, their third album and first since 2011’s Ceremonials. And can we just admire the beauty of the album artwork? The package is clean and classic, and the photography included is simply gorgeous.
The album marks a departure from the orchestral and hymnal Ceremonials that sounded like the beat to an ecstatic religious procession. We still get subtle string and brass instrumentals—in fact, the album booklet credits an abundance of instruments from tuba, flute, and trombone, to violin, cello, and harp, just to name a few. But HBHBHB relies on simple rock and roll rhythms, almost stripping back the bravado of previous albums, allowing Florence’s divine voice to pierce through to the listener; the strength that once came from drums now resonates in her candid vocals.
There are no songs as anthemic as “Cosmic Love” or “Spectrum” but “What Kind of Man” comes close with its sharp guitar strings and angry brass bellows. “Hiding” has a shimmering electronic harmony that mimics the mania of staying “up all night again this week/ Breaking things that [you] should keep.” And other memorable songs include the “Which Witch” demo, “Make Up Your Mind,” and “Pure Feeling.”
“Various Storms & Saints” was the first song (aside from the singles already released) that I stopped and said “holy shit this is beautiful.” It’s murky and it reaches into the dark areas of your soul; it’s a ballad, but it’s formless, unconventional, and it escapes modern song stylings. The vocals are pure and altogether the song captures the essence of unraveling yourself or stumbling in the world:
But you had to have him, and so you did Some things you let go in order to live While all around you, the buildings sway
It’s a plea to forgive yourself and protect your heart after your feet give way in a relationship.
“St. Jude” reveals Florence’s grief in losing love, but also a sort of embracement. In her attempt to find love, she likens her relationship to a storm and decries St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes, who “came to give her blessing while causing devastation.” However, even though she loses at love again, there’s a gloomy optimism in her words: “maybe I’ve always been more comfortable in chaos.”
Overall, How Big How Blue How Beautiful is everything you could want from Florence + the Machine and more. Florence said she had to fall apart a bit, and I feel it absolutely shows in this album: it’s vulnerable, demanding, powerful, and it exposes Florence’s weak spots.
16-year-old Maren Sanchez was an honors student at her high school in Connecticut. A teenager with a tremendous amount of potential, she served as a manager for numerous sports teams and enjoyed photography and singing. Maren was ecstatic for the junior prom on the upcoming Friday, and had already uploaded photos of herself in the dress onto Facebook. On the day of the prom, in a hallway packed with students, Maren’s friend, Christopher Plaskon, approached her and asked her to prom. Maren declined, telling him she was already going with someone else. Christopher, consumed with the rage of being rejected, then withdrew a blade and began violently stabbing Maren in the face, chest, and neck. The attack was witnessed by many students. Christopher was removed from the hallway by staff members and taken into custody, and Maren was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Christopher’s attorneys will be pursuing an insanity defense, as Christopher claims demons propelled him to kill Maren.
Congratulations!! It's always an instant mood-lifter to hear about good people finding other good people and sticking with it :) I'm ecstatic to get to meet you and the others in July! Oh- a question? Hm... Favorite/funniest memory of these 21 years?
Thank you! Believe me, of the two of us, I’m the more difficult person to live with.
Funniest / favoritest memory…
Well, there was the time he accidentally mooned my mom…
There was the time while were were still dating when he told e some stupid joke and I laughed so hard I had to sit on the sidewalk and I couldn’t move.
There’s the time he spent six months making me a Wonder Woman Lego mural in secret.
There’s the way he doesn’t even blink when I get my half-assed ideas, like “BTW, Shawn, I’m kinda organizing this meetup in another country and also, there are people staying a few nights.” (he’s used to it by now)
“You want a home birth? Really?? Okay. Sure I’ll catch.”
“A puppy? How much? I’ll put it in the budget.”
He brings me coffee in bed nearly every morning. Breakfast in bed at least weekly.
There’s this, which is my favorite picture ever in the world:
Do you think that merMakoto gets depressed at all because he can't really be with him family? Did baby have some separation problems because of this?
Yeah he definitely gets sad about it …
Very sad :/
He loves haru and his baby more than anytbing but there’s not much to be done… Haru did promise to do something for their future though (takes a while to get to that point_( :⁍ 」 )_)
Well for most of the year makoto has his siblings/parents/pod for company at least
Scaly legs does fairly well with haru and rin but he does miss makoto ;__; a lot. But haru does everything he can to visit makoto and to haul makotos fish ass into his apartment from time to time.
Of course scaly legs is always ecstatic to see makoto.
what she means:did you ever imagine I'd hang on to your stuff, dad? Me either. But I guess I always knew that some day I was gonna draw you. In cartoons. Yes, dad I know you think cartoons are silly but I draw cartoons and I need real things to draw from because I don't trust memory. But God this thing is ghastly, you were so ecstatic when you found it at a yard sale. No no wait, in Mr. Gibbons barn, it all comes back it all comes back it all comes back. There's you. And there's me. But now I'm the one who's 43 and stuck; I can't find my way through. Just like you. Am I just like you. I can't abide romantic notions of some vague long ago, I want to know what is true, dig deep into who, and what, and why, and when, until now gives way to then
Gotta love Outlander. Ron “Frank4ever” Moore pisses me off, Sam and Cait make me forget about the bad things and just be happy. I mean, really really happy. I’m literally jumping, I’m that ecstatic. Today has been a good day.
this time last year i wouldve been ecstatic that they arent doing arenas, but after experiencing a show with a crowd like they pull i know its not safe for the fans and possibly even the band themselves and now all i want is arenas and organized ways to meet them
At first it was cute how Kristoff tries his best to include Elsa in everything.
When you had introduced them, you had a lot of trepidation in how they would interact. With him being very outgoing and outspoken (like yourself), and with her being more on the reserved side (which you love), you were actually quite convinced he would scare her away.
Georgiana crossed her arms over her chest, shivering. It was freezing here in the Forbidden Forest. She knew it had been a mistake to go into the forest with her brother and his friends. But she had been feeling dangerous at the time, and quite honestly just wanted to fit in. She was ecstatic that her brother had asked her to come along. Unfortunately, she had been separated from the rest of the group and she was wandering the scariest place in the world.. Alone.
Her breathing was coming quickly and she could feel herself getting close to tears when she heard the snapping of a branch somewhere behind her. She whimpered and whirled around, pointing her lit wand towards the trees. Georgie sighed in relief when she saw the boy. “Peter!” She ran towards him, throwing her arms around him. She normally wouldn’t have hugged him, but desperate times and desperate measures. “Thank god. I was terrified. Where are the others?” She looked behind him hopefully.