Florence Welch has a penchant for dramatics. But what would be a dubious distinction for most twentysomethings becomes an advantage when paired with Welch’s otherworldly vocals and a trio of top-tier British producers who elevate her Mercury Prize-nominated debut album, Lungs, to something that manages to be grandiose, relatable, and incessantly catchy all at the same time. On “Drumming Song,” for example, Welch’s chest-thumping delivery manages to match the relentless, driving percussion in terms of both intensity and catharsis, while “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” utilizes a choir, bells, and lion/lamb imagery in service of the pop-song equivalent of twirling joyfully in a sunny field.
Welch and her producers filter a multitude of styles through this epic purview, from garage-rock (“Kiss With A Fist”) to freak-folk (“My Boy Builds Coffins”) to bluesy cabaret (“Girl With One Eye”) to gospel-tinged dance (a cover of The Source’s “You’ve Got The Love”). At times, Lungs borders on exhausting, careening as it does from one over-the-top track to the next—even the comparatively subdued soul ballad “I’m Not Calling You A Liar” eventually crescendos toward a lush, tear-stained finale. But with a voice as strong and emotive as hers, it’s not surprising that Welch has little use for moments of quiet contemplation.