The Bottom Line
Lungs, the first album from Florence and the Machine, was an impressive tour de force. If "What the Water Gave Me" is any indication, the second album will go even further into some form of ecstatic musical revelation we have only glimpsed thus far. Taking cues from painter Frida Kahlo and writer Virginia Woolf, "What the Water Gave Me" is simply one of the most powerful and resonant pop songs of 2011. The entire recording is outstanding, but the final two minutes will blow you away.
- Powerful concept
- Explosion of musical joy in the closing minutes
- Florence Welch's engaging, ethereal vocals
- Haunting words
- No mistakes here
- Written by Florence Welch and Eg White
- Produced by Paul Epworth
- Released August 2011 by Island
Guide Review - Florence and the Machine - "What the Water Gave Me"
Taking the title from a surrealist painting by Frida Kahlo and, seemingly, lyrical inspiration from the suicide of Virginia Woolf, Florence Welch, aka Florence and the Machine, has delivered a new single that delivers fully on the promise heard on her debut album Lungs. Her chosen collaborators, Eg White (perhaps best known for Adele's "Chasing Pavements") on songwriting, and Paul Epworth (producer of Adele's mammoth smash "Rolling In the Deep") on production, are no strangers to creating powerful pop music. The trademark elements of Florence and the Machine music are here with ethereal vocals, harps, and the ghost of British folk-rock. However, there is a soulful power here that carries the music even deeper.
Gospel-edged organ and trilling guitars provide instrumental interest in "What the Water Gave Me" that gives it an aural depth rare in today's mainstream pop music. The lyrics leave a great deal open to interpretation, but the constant references to "pockets full of stones" and the connection of the words to the story of Virginia Woolf's death in which she walked into the water with her pockets filled with stones lend a sense of dread that constantly threatens to drown the listener. "What the Water Gave Me" breaks down into a near a capella chorus approximately three minutes into the song in gorgeous fashion, but it is only a foreshadowing of what is to come.
For the final two minutes of the song restraint is abandoned and Florence and the Machine unleash something that sounds simply like revelatory joy. "Dog Days Are Over" laid the groundwork with pop audiences in the US for Florence and the Machine to gain instant attention for this new single. If there is justice in the US pop music world, "What the Water Gave Me" will be the next "Rolling In the Deep." It is a recording that shows us just how emotionally powerful and engaging a pop song can be. Purchase your copy now.