I have a confession to make: I thought that listening to Lungs for a week would be easy. Why? Well, I’ve been listening to it every day for months now, and it’s never taken any effort on my part…
… Until now.
Here’s the problem: this isn’t just an album that Debbie loves, it’s one that I love too. So, whilst the aim of this blog is to try and give an objective and fair review of the records you have submitted, it’s hard to remain unbiased when I feel the same way.
Lungs has been a major contributor to the soundtrack of my life over the last year. It has accompanied me through times of elation, love, loss and desperation. However, as I began listening to it for this project, it dawned on me that I’d actually been taking the record for granted.
Playing this album, in its complete form, over the past seven days wasn’t difficult. I found myself consuming it, without even realising that I’d gone through it twice or three times over. I expect that therein lays crux of the issue – I’d become so used to hearing the record that I hadn’t really been listening to it.
Once this had become apparent, I started paying attention to the album in a way that I’d not done for some time. I listened in a more focused way – a way in which I don’t usually, unless a particular emotional state has prompted me to grasp hold of a song or a lyric that defines that moment.
What did I hear as a result?
An album that strips away the flesh, then screams at you unashamedly and without apology.
‘Dog Days Are Over’ and ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ provide hopeful beginnings to a record which will expose your vulnerabilities in tracks such as ‘I’m Not Calling You A Liar’, ‘Between Two Lungs’ and ‘Cosmic Love’, and pull you apart, limb-from-limb with the primal ‘Howl’.
Where Debbie states that ‘Blinding’ is her most affecting song on the album, ‘Hurricane Drunk’ and ‘Drumming Song’ are mine.
As a reaction to seeing a past lover with someone else, described in a way that is self-destructive - “I’m going out, I’m going to drink myself to death” - yet strangely optimistic - “I’d like to think at least things can’t get any worse”. ‘Hurricane Drunk’ is honest, heart-breaking and hopeful, and something that many, including myself, can relate to entirely.
Then there is ‘Drumming Song’ - a track that is nothing less than epic. The tribal beat and lyrics that convey the desperation of an obsessive and all-consuming love, terrify and comfort me simultaneously. It is unforgiving, and will invade your body without invitation.
Bravely, in thirteen songs, three are covers. The sinister ‘Girl With One Eye’ was originally by The Ludes, and the entertaining ‘Kiss With A Fist’ began life as a track called ‘Happy Slap’, featuring on Ashok’s album Plans, a band that Florence was once a part of.
The bone of contention for many is Welch’s version of ‘You’ve Got The Love’. In covering The Source featuring Candi Staton, and stating how influential the song is to her, Florence puts herself on the line.
For me, I believe that in treating the track honestly and with respect, she has made it her own. It is a rousing, anthemic, and powerful closing sentiment to an album that deals with so much.