The album opens up with, (Or at least tries to) “June” and I say that because there’s at least a 14 second delay between the start of the track and you being able to actually hear anything, and I honestly don’t know what this aims to achieve, coming across as more of a production error rather than having any beneficial point within the song. When the song IS flowing however we get a piano led, restrained little track, gently accompanying Florence’s instantly recognisable husky, sometimes warbled vocals. It does have a slight, climactic flurry but it’s abrupt ending spoils that completely. Were the spare 14 seconds meant to be this side of the song, instead of being empty? Here it just sounds incomplete; a poor start.
Lead single “Hunger” then follows and admittedly this is much better; with a more up-beat rhythm its sounding far more positive, with encouraging lyrics and a gospel-inspired clap-along accompaniment, coupled with soulful backing gang-vocals, this is Florence as we know her and she’s so easily capable of writing songs that simply ooze with joyousness; this being one of them. This is reinforced by the track “Patricia” which again has all of the classic F+TM traits, wonderfully blending soulful pop with energetic indie…the string sections and bold chorus allowing for a dynamic listen and again it allows for an enjoyable song. Florence has always had subtle gothic tendencies mind you and here it’s showcased by the ultra-moody “Big God”…the almost haunted, deeper tempo with its sultry tones and slow-build gives the album extra character overall and is a definite highlight.
This albums primary flaw however, is in fact how stripped back it actually is…as despite only being ten tracks long, it feels a lot longer because of the level of restriction, with an almost shoegaze appraoch utilised. “Grace” whilst on paper is an appropriately titled graceful little piano ballad, it feels incredibly drawn out, and as assertive as Florence is vocally the track fails to hold attention, so too do the albums closing tracks suffer similarly, with “The End Of Love” and “No Choir” rounding things off in lacklustre fashion. Yes the point of this album was a more personal, raw recording and that does indeed resonate through Flo’s vocals throughout, her ability as a performer can’t be questioned, but taking this direction has denied us the proper banger's we all know the band are capable of…there’s no rush and excitement of “Howl”…there’s no drama and climax of “What The Water Gave Me” and there’s no feisty attitude of “Kiss With A Fist”…instead, while we have a well matured album, it’s pretty much just Florence…the machine seems to be on standby.