As the season changes to summer and students go from stressing over exams to (hopefully) frolicking on sandy beaches, they’re going to need a soundtrack to do it to. Thankfully, Florence + the Machine’s “Dance Fever,” released May 13, delivers. The band’s first album since 2018, this album proves that the indie darling still has much to offer.
Since the release of its debut album “Lungs” in 2009, the band, fronted by Florence Welch, has assumed the status of indie rock royalty. “Dance Fever” shows that Welch deserves her crown, as her musical style cannot be matched no matter how many imitators try. In this album, Florence does especially well in pushing the boundaries of her eclectic musical style while still delivering the lyrical themes that fans have come to expect of her. Now on her fifth studio album, Welch is no stranger to the formation of a set of cohesive tracks. Throughout “Dance Fever,” the tracks seem to flow effortlessly into one another, even as they are thematically different. “King” is especially strong as the album’s first single, delivering a hearty punch of power.
One of the most alluring parts of the album is its soul-stirring lyricism, which touches on themes of religion, the power of femininity and its contention with the music industry, folkloric legends and the infectiousness of rhythm and dance. The track “Choreomania” feels especially cathartic for Welch; throughout the album, she remarks on the conditions faced by female artists in the music industry, and this song serves as the cornerstone of this theme. “You said that rock and roll is dead, but is that just because it has not been resurrected in your image?” Welch poignantly sings in one of the best lines on the album.
On feminist track “Dream Girl Evil,” Welch masterfully unpacks the manic pixie dream girl trope, which is especially prevalent in indie subcultures. The album’s closing track, “Morning Elvis,” is a fitting end to the album, as its reflections on quarantine and the emotional darkness before Welch’s sobriety are perfectly contrasted with the closing sounds of a cheering crowd.
As the album seems to be inspired by the phenomenon of choreomania — an outbreak of collective dancing in Europe in the 14th and 17th centuries — many of the songs are extremely danceable and inspiring. While Welch is often known for her ballads, there is a considerable diversity of sound on “Dance Fever,” encapsulating a solid mix of enchanting bops and enticing, slower melodies. In particular, the haunting synths of “Back in Town” are especially seductive, as they bring in much of the spooky and folkloric elements of the album’s sound. “Heaven is Here” and its accompanying music video are incredibly fun and danceable, though the lyrics are less than cheerful: Welch reflects on her connection to herself, her music and heaven. Additionally, the decision to have the opening track be titled “King” and the closing track be titled “Morning Elvis” seems like more than coincidence — a well-thought-out effort on Welch’s part. In this way, much of the album seems to revolve around the connection between folkloric legends and those we glorify in the modern era, which is especially interesting as Florence beautifully connects these legends to her own life story.
In “Dance Fever,” Florence + the Machine hopes to stir the masses from their collective slumber of quarantine, releasing an album full of exhilarating and eclectic tracks that will surely wake even the weariest of people.