Florence and the Machine: New single packs a punch

Source: consequenceofsound.net
Source: consequenceofsound.net

Florence Welch, AKA “Lungs,” after the title of her first album, has returned, and the music world should rejoice. Florence posted video clip teasers leading up to the Thursday, February 12th release of “What Kind of Man,” the first single and music video from her highly-anticipated third album How Big How Blue How Beautiful, which is set for release on June 2nd.Florence HBHBHB 2

The “What Kind of Man” music video, directed by Vincent Haycock, builds with the momentum of the song. It is a chaotic, loud, and intense production, depicting Florence and her love interest’s tumultuous relationship. The video and song begin quietly. Florence and her love interest are driving down the road, discussing Florence talking in her sleep, and her lover admits she seemed sad.

She asks, “Why didn’t you wake me up?” He says, “I didn’t want to intervene. It just seemed like you were suffering somewhere else.” They also discuss turmoil and Florence ponders aloud if couples who suffer together feel closer after horrific events like a storm. This becomes a theme throughout the video.

Then we are shown a montage of moments from the couple’s relationship. We see images of water (one of Flo’s classic subjects in the past) when Florence is sitting in a car while it’s raining, and then when she emerges from the bathtub, gasping for air is if she had been drowning. In another image, Florence is sitting in a chair, and numerous hands appear, covering her face and torso. This could symbolize anything from blatant sexual abuse or others forcefully fighting to gain control (sexually or otherwise).

Included in this montage is silent scenes from Florence and her lover’s highly sexual, volatile relationship.Florence bares her breasts in the video, and while some may argue that this is shocking or controversial, the nudity is done artfully, symbolically displaying the destruction of this couple’s relationship.

The theme of catastrophic storms is displayed throughout the video. During the montage, just as the music quietly creeps into the video, a television in the couple’s bedroom shows breaking news of a hurricane while the couple sits on the bed and Florence dresses. The couple sit far apart on the bed, facing away from one another. Her lover’s eyes are glued to the screen as she looks away.

The couple both sit in the back seats of a car driving through what appears to be Los Angeles as Florence discusses a dream she had about a storm:

“And we’re in the middle of it, sort of calm, but we can feel it. Like it’s everywhere.”

For the first time, almost two minutes into the video, we hear the first lyrics of the song as Florence slowly croons, “I was on a heavy tip, trying to cross a canyon with a broken limb.” With these lyrics, we see Florence’s lover emerge from the bathroom in a towel, and then cuts to Florence being rescued from drowning.

Florence runs stumbling through the rain in another shot, and naked while watching the news of a storm in the next.

The only shots showing Florence and her lover happy are when we travel forward in time to them driving down the road like the start of the video. Florence smiles, laughs, and sunlight streams in from the car’s window, juxtaposed with a following shot of her sitting in the dark, visibly distraught as she sings the lyrics, “What kind of man loves like this?”

Suddenly, while Florence is in the passenger’s seat (in a clearly different time period than the start of the video), their car is T-boned from the passenger side. The booming crash coincides with the sudden, thunderous drumming of the song. As the music’s pace quickens, so does the action of the video. Florence is surrounded by men in a dance sequence that appears to be displaying sexual dominance or control. She is physically held down and she attempts to fight back. Her face is angry and desperate as she sings with the chorus, “What kind of man loves like this?”

Source: blog.discopop.co.uk
Source: blog.discopop.co.uk

In other shots, Florence is carried to what could be described as a dungeon with a bare mattress. In some shots, she is on the mattress, and men surround the room. She screams at the men, flailing her body in frustration. At other times, she and her lover are naked together in the same dungeon. Her lover appears in the dance sequences, and the other men fight to keep the two apart as they frantically reach out their arms towards one another.

The last shots of the video take us back to Florence being rescued from drowning in an ocean. She is lifted out of the water by several women who console her, stroking her face in worry.

“What Kind of Man,” both the song and music video, is powerful, complicated, and loud. With classic Florence fashion, she starts slow, and allows the momentum to build before the booming drums send a shock wave to our ears. Her voice coincidences with this momentum, beginning as a slow, low croon, building up to loud, higher octaves.

Florence and the Machine is back, better than ever, and if the rest of her album is like its first single, then How Big How Blue How Beautiful will be more proof that Florence is a powerhouse voice, and arguably one of the best in the current music scene.


  1. My friend showed me this single last weekend and I am hooked. Her voice has always been so hauntingly beautiful and this particular song speaks to me, with some recent love trouble in my own life.
    Found your blog through a blog sharing party here and it looks like we have several things in common.
    Looking forward to checking out more of your posts here.

    1. I completely agree! She is one of my favorite artists, and I am obsessed with this song. I’m looking forward to the album release.

      I’m so glad you found my blog! Thank you for checking it out! I’m looking forward to reading yours as well. πŸ™‚

  2. Reblogged this on Her Headache and commented:
    A friend showed me this latest single for the upcoming album and I planned to speak about it somewhere here, but today I came across this post from a fan and she summed it up very well.

  3. Thanks to you and re-posting from another site. (I like it here.) I viewed the video, read the blog-explanation, and thought: Awesome! The video IS sexy and volatile. But I think: if not one of them had clothes on, it would be/could be from what some call “a porno movie.” Swinging, maybe even gang-banging. And the lyrics do address us men: what kind of man does do that to a woman in group sex. It is violence. (But here come those “consentual-ers: she wants it.) Without a doubt, this video will raise more than eyebrows. There will be some jaw-droppings! Mouth-gapings! And maybe an ouch or two. Just disregard my comments, but can you? (Look how they throw her around, for one.) But the water? The baptism? What to make of that? Cleansing from sins? From the water/wet into the church. Redemption? Bring it all back to us: What kind of man loves like this? (Yet deep down, how many of us men are/will be excited by the sex and the violence? This a scary statistic in our time.) Definitely power and domination is the story told here. Now, women readers of Fifty Shades of Grey, what do YOU think of this video/song? Do you REALLY “like” it? Probably not. I like the message: the answer to the question is. . . .

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