Archive for November 19th, 2011

Why I dislike Florence + The Machine

Florence + The Machine’s new album “Ceremonials” seems to be the album of the year for most listeners. I’ve never seen so much positive feedback on any album before on iTunes. There were only very few negative reviews, while about 99% of the reviews giving the album a 5/5 rating. This was astonishing actually, truly something I haven’t seen before for any album.

But personally, I can’t stomach Florence and her “music”. She irks me to no end. And here’s why: she just doesn’t stop fucking singing (or shouting). She sings from one end to the other, about 95% of the duration of each song! She overpowers everything, there is absolutely no “music” to speak of in there. She just takes over, in a selfish, self-important role somehow, telling us “how it is”, leaving nothing to our imagination. There is no ambiance, there’s no atmosphere. There’s just Florence. The music that exists in the album is just background noise, just so Florence doesn’t appear acapella. It’s even mixed very low!

Make no mistake, Florence can write very nice hooks, in a way that other musicians simply can’t, no matter how hard they try. I do not question her talent to write great melodies and harmonies! But having easy-listening music is not the end all. You need a proper production too, a production which brings a balance between the voice, and the music. Such balance does not exist in Florence’s albums, especially in the second one. In a very surprising twist for me, Pitchfork had the exact same complain about Florence’s album, when awarded it with a 6/10.

But as I wrote in the beginning, people apparently love the style. Which to me is very disappointing, because this shows that most people today are sheep. They prefer to listen to a kind of music that’s hollow and straight to their faces. I can’t see much difference between Florence’s music and than saying “please government, give me more restrictive laws, I love those, because they tell me exactly what to do, what not to do, and how to think“. Maybe I’m overreaching here, but that’s how I feel about Florence’s (and Gaga’s, and Rihanna’s, and any other’s plain pop act’s) listeners: they want to be told how to think and feel. It’s like there’s no imagination or creativity left in these people’s brains anymore! They leach upon Florence’s instead. It’s the “easy” way out of art.

As I’ve written in the past, all this is why I stopped listening to mainstream pop and moved to what it’s now called “indie alternative”. Because alternative, puts way fewer limits to the listener. As a synesthete, I need to be able to build on top of a musical piece, I need to bring myself into it, and fill in the gaps that the artist left intentionally for me. This way, I become one with the work, in a personal and unique manner. Washed Out’s first EP in 2009 for example, was perfect for my needs. One of the most perfect music I ever heard (didn’t quite like as much his new album though).

Anyway, this kind of indie, alternative psych music I prefer is a lot like taking a philosophy test at school. There are questions, and there are hints in the questions, but there are no answers, you will have to squeeze your brain and provide these. But with mainstream pop, the test itself is a multiple-choice one, with the “right” answers already checked in! In other words, the music I prefer is READ-WRITE, while mainstream pop is READ-ONLY.

With Florence, I can’t do read-write. Florence occupies all the space. To like her music I must become her blind follower while she must become my priestess. And I’m not the kind of person who follows others blindly in any way. If anything, I’m known to have strong opinions and hold on to them. I try to progress myself through art and other means, but I can’t follow a fucking cult. That might be a kind of art, but it’s not my kind of art.