As recently as two years ago, it was completely unknown. Then there was an advert for a new channel called 4 Music which was set to a song called Kiss With A Fist by an emerging artist known as Florence And The Machine. Little did we know the soundtrack to the next two years of our lives had just been decided.
Florence and the Machine’s debut album Lungs was one of the biggest selling albums of 2009, winning Best Album at this year’s Brits. And on its release, the hype was justified. Florence Welch’s voice is a thing of remarkable power and personality, not the usual pop puppet croon, and Lungs felt fresh and inventive after the mortgage indie landslide that dominated the end of the 2000s. It was an unlikely album to cross over given Welch’s often bizarre treatment of song structure and melody: the vocal line shooting into the stratosphere every few bars, Dog Days Are Over isn’t exactly easy to hum along to.
But somehow Lungs found its way onto most of the ipods in Britain, and into the public consciousness. The next step? Television saturation. Evidently bored of mining Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid for incidental music, producers set their sights on Florence, and here we are, almost two years later, unable to turn on the TV without Rabbit Heart popping up on Come Dine With Me or Dog Days on a trailer for one of BBC3’s gems about sending WAGs and neds to impoverished areas for reasons best known to themselves. Seemingly, it’s an album for all occasions, from hope over adversity to getting the asparagus just right.
And the worst offender is the album’s low point, the competent but unremarkable cover of You’ve Got The Love, popular with the same people buying those Glee covers albums in their droves on the grounds that they don’t have to make space in their heads for songs they don’t already sort of know. It was a huge hit, it became the go-to montage soundtrack, and then became a massive hit again, albeit in a slightly different form, after Florence performed with Dizzee Rascal at the Brits.
It’s too much. Slowly but surely, all pleasure once found in the record is destroyed. It doesn’t help that albums are hammered until pretty much everyone who can afford it has bought it: relentlessly promoted for anything up to three years, every album is now a Thriller, hanging around until every possible single is harvested – Lungs is now on its fifth single, sixth if you count the downloads of You Got The Dirtee Love (yep, actually what it’s called). And with festival season looming, the next big crossover album is surely due. It could be one you like, ready to be ruined forever, or one you hate on first listen, destined to become a maddening soundtrack to your every move. Pray for ambivalence and you might survive with a love of music intact.