By anyoneâ€™s standards, itâ€™s been a productive couple of years for Florence Welch.
Since bursting to prominence as Florence + The Machine with songs like â€˜Kiss With A Fistâ€™, â€˜Dog Days Are Overâ€™ and â€˜You've Got The Loveâ€™, the flame-haired Londoner has enjoyed a flood of hit singles and awards, world-conquering tours and a debut album, â€˜Lungsâ€™, which has sold three million copies worldwide.
Evidently, the esteemed readers of Time Magazine also took a particular shine to her, ranking her number 56 in a recent poll of the world's one hundred most influential people. But Florence seems distinctly un-phased by it all.
â€œI don't really wake up and think 'Oh my God, I'm so famous',â€ she laughs. â€œThat never happens! I'm just working.â€
Most recently, this has entailed riding her bike down to London's Abbey Road studios and working on the follow-up to â€˜Lungsâ€™ with producer Paul Epworth, the man behind Adele's monster hit record, â€˜21â€™.
The resulting album, â€˜Ceremonialsâ€™, is a dramatic and confident body of work that delivers on a longstanding musical vision.
â€œI came upon this sound maybe halfway through making the first record,â€ Florence explains, as she recalls a prescient comment she made two years ago. â€œI said, 'I know exactly what I want the second album to sound like â€” it sounds like a big low sub bass and loads of massive rattling drums and then a big choral thing that fades into nothing.' I think that's kinda what I've done.â€
â€˜Ceremonialsâ€™ sees Florence moving into heavier territory, ramping up the intensity and mixing powerful and dramatic soundscapes with haunting vulnerability, all wrapped around that epic voice. Layers of instrumentation build to majestic climaxes with songs like â€˜No Light, No Lightâ€™, â€˜Breaking Downâ€™ and â€˜Spectrumâ€™, before dropping away to stripped-back arrangements and breathy whispers.
Florence continues the soul searching she began on â€˜Lungsâ€™, seeking to exorcise the mistakes of the past in â€˜Shake It Outâ€™, and referencing tragic heroines Frida Kahlo and Virginia Woolf in â€˜What The Water Gave Meâ€™.
â€œThere's a lot to do with me wrestling with my own demons and my own attitude towards whether I'm a good person or not, wondering how [to] feel about love and relationships,â€ she reflects. Yet answers remain elusive. â€œNothing's ever resolved, and nothing's ever good or bad.â€
Despite the songs' rather intimate nature, Florence is undaunted by the prospect of sharing her introspection with the world.
â€œI'm really looking forward to getting out and playing it live. Once it's out there, that's when it gets to the most exciting bit,â€ she enthuses. â€œI want [â€˜Ceremonialsâ€™] more than anything to have an overwhelming effect on the listener: I want it to make people feel something.â€
She can be sure that the world will be listening.
Florence + The Machine play the Brisbane Riverstage May 26. â€˜Ceremonialsâ€™ is out now.
BY: ALASTAIR EMMETT
2007. Welch recorded with band Ashok; album is released. Resigned after feeling she was in the wrong band. Welch then joins new project Florrible and Miserella; the group release an eight track album.
2008. Florence + The Machine are formed. 'Kiss With A Fist' is released as the album's lead single on June 9. The track was featured on the soundtracks to multiple films including â€˜Wild Childâ€™, â€˜Jennifer's Bodyâ€™ and â€˜St. Trinian's 2â€™.
2009. Florence + the Machine release their debut album, â€˜Lungsâ€™, in July. It is nominated for the Mercury Prize.
2010. After months of non-stop world touring, â€˜Lungsâ€˜ reaches number one on the UK albums chart in January. In June, Florence + the Machine provide the track 'Heavy In Your Arms' for the soundtrack to â€˜The Twilight Saga: Eclipseâ€™.
January sees the band in Australia for the first time for the St. Jerome's Laneway Festival. After the success of singles 'Dog Days Are Over' and 'You've Got The Love', the band return to our shores for a string of sold out shows including a headline slot at Splendour In The Grass in July. By October, â€˜Lungsâ€™ had spent 65 consecutive weeks inside the top 40 of the UK album chart. â€˜Lungsâ€™ wins the MasterCard British Album award at the 2010 BRIT Awards. At the 53rd Grammy Awards, Florence + the Machine are nominated for Best New Artist. Additionally, the band performed at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
2011. Extensive touring of the US begins. 'Dog Days Are Over' is used by Apple for their iPad 2 commercial. Recording of the second album begins in April at Abbey Road Studios. The final recording session takes place in July at producer Paul Epworth's (produced hit single 'Cosmic Love' - Flo's favourite track on 'Lungs') studio.
In August, the single 'What The Water Gave Me' was released along with an accompanying video. The video drew 1.5 million YouTube views in two days. Riding on the hype, lead single 'Shake It Out' is released the next month, taking over charts around the world.
As hype continues to build for the release of their second album, October 4 sees Florence perform at the Chanel Spring/ Summer 2012 fashion show. Designer Karl Lagerfeld recognises Welch as his muse. The group's second studio album, â€˜Ceremonialsâ€™, is released in October, debuting at number one in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and number six in the US.
2012. Florence + The Machine head back to Australia for a fourth trip, this time performing in stadiums around the country.