I’ve never been a fan of Florence + The Machine – if anything, an occasional listener. The songs to which I returned most often always had one thing in common for me. They reminded me of the momentum taken by a human while fleeing the impending threat and the moment when you manage to get to a safe place and you can breathe, although emotions are still buzzing inside. With many songs from “Dance Fever” I have exactly the same. This is Florence Welch’s first album that I have listened to carefully, from cover to cover – and I already know that a similar process awaits me with the previous albums. Mainly to see how Welch developed an extraordinary self-awareness that breaks through every song on Dance Fever.
Florence Welch like Kassandra
Such a high level of self-awareness brings with it a lot of anguish, which is mainly hidden in the constant need to control ourselves, over everything that is wrong with us, what is not working out for us, what we do wrong or what seems bad in the eyes of others. In “Dance Fever” Florence Welch fights for just such control. She wants to live her own way, but her fear, frustration, and anger that Florence needs to let go of is overshadowed by her. And dance.
The lion’s share of the plate was created in the lockdown. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Welch recalls that the initial phase of the pandemic found her in New York, where she worked with Jack Antonoff, who co-produced Dance Fever. The first sessions were great until the artist’s mother called and asked her to come home for a while. She was geared up for a maximum of a month’s break. The prolonged need to stand still did not allow her to return to creating for a long time.
“Choreomania” sounds like it was taken out of the middle of a lockdown, but it was created long before it started. Florence was then fascinated by the eponymous Renaissance phenomenon, also known as the “dance epidemic” or “St. Vitus Dance”. Groups of people gathered in one place to dance until they literally lost their strength. “And I go crazy in the middle of the street with full conviction, like someone who has never had something really bad happened (…) I don’t know how it happened, how to stop it / Suddenly I dance to an imaginary music (…) I shoot I dance and dance till I die “- sings Florence in” Choreomania “, at first reminiscent of the sound of one of her greatest hits,” Dog Days Are Over “.
– This is how it is, that I wrote the songs that sound the most “pandemic” much earlier. It happens to me a lot – said Florence in an interview with the Independent. This is what “Cassandra” tells, where Welch plays the mythical cursed priestess who always foretold the future truthfully, but no one wanted to listen to her. In the case of Florence, it is exactly the opposite – crowds of people want to hear what she has to convey, but in order for this message to see the light of day, the artist has to create it with the thought that no one will hear it.
– I enter into a conversation with myself, and then I realize that everyone will hear this conversation. But I never stopped myself from releasing the song because I was scared I said too much, Welch says on Zane Lowe’s Apple Music show.
Since she entered the path of sobriety, she began to put all her strength into the dance
During “Dance Fever” Florence shared with the audience more dilemmas about femininity and the social roles related to it (“King”), spirituality and interpersonal relations (“Girls Against God”, “Heaven is Here”). She remembered back to a time when it seemed to her that staying true to rock’n’roll’s roots was to drink to die. “Morning Elvis” closing the album is a postcard from almost a decade ago, from the day when, during a trip to New Orleans, she insisted on staying at the party until morning – she came back with a torn dress, completely battered.
“What was it about me that I wrote down my own death sentence so vehemently?” I cared so little about myself … – Welch recalls. It didn’t matter what I did the night before or the week before what chaos I caused, because I knew that when I got on the stage something would save me and I would be absolved. And this song is about that feeling, but it’s also a tribute to all the performers who transformed pain into beautiful things in front of our eyes.
Ever since Florence entered the path of sobriety, she began to put all her strength into the dance. The artist claims that the most important message of her new album is closed in two lines from the song “Free”: “I hear the music, I feel the rhythm / And for the moment when I dance, I’m free”. The most obvious of all songs on “Dance Fever” invites you to dance the single “My Love”, which in the context of the entire disc has a surprising sound. From the sublime orchestration scrolling through the album, only fists and a strong drum remain (and the inherent choral singing of Florence) – besides, it is a 180-degree turn with a disco spark, which the song was given by Dave Bayley from Glass Animals.
“My Love” was at first a sad poem written in the kitchen. Bayley put into it a load of energy in the form of synthesizers and a dance beat, which Florence completed with rhythmic breaths and vocals reminiscent of the times of the “Ceremonials” album. On the track, this longing banger is preceded by the song “Daffodil”, which for Florence at one point was “the most florence-and-the-machine thing she has ever created”. The song was written last spring, when Welch, seeing nature bloom again, gave herself the hope that the world might not end after all. This hope is lined with great anxiety, and at the same time saves from complete destruction.
I remember what emotions last year were caused by Bo Burnham’s project “Inside”, which was created in a deep lockdown and perfectly reproduced the sine wave that many of us had been walking on during the previous year. “Dance Fever” Florence + The Machine is the perfect complement to this process, which is going on and will last a long time (or maybe it will never end?). This album confirmed me in a not very revealing, but essential belief: uncontrolled outbursts of emotions are needed just as much as careful reflection on what causes them – the ground so as not to get caught up in oneself. And dance if you have to.