Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Time to SHAKE yo Bootyliciousness


Two of our favorite divas have released comeback singles from their second albums. Florence & the Machine (Florence Welch) and Little Boots (Victoria Hesketh) both arrived in 2009, receiving BRIT Critics Choice Award nods and spots on the BBC Sound of 2009 Poll, with Florence winning the former and Little Boots topping the latter.

Ms. Welch debuted with Lungs, an epic album featuring intricate instrumentation, including LOTS of harp. If there existed an album that was the sonic equivalent of a cathedral, it would be Lungs (which makes sense, because if I'm not mistaken, it was recorded in one). Florence was the artist I wanted to like oh so much, with her cooler than cool (but really, hotter than hot) red hair and indie-soul flair. Every time I saw her in a music magazine, her shiny red locks were perfectly manicured, accompanied by glossy makeup and fantastic fashion (love your clothes, Hannah Marshall!). She just oozed "cool." May I say "cool" twenty more times? It's warranted when it comes to Florence. Her music was original, innovative, and of very high quality, but for some reason, it never completely satisfied me. Yes, I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the following songs: Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)Girl With One EyeHurricane Drunk, and Swimming. The lyrics are gorgeous, the production is fresh yet simultaneously classic, girlfriend's performance and visuals are as energetic and glamorous as it gets, and her voice could knock someone out.

Still, something is a bit off for me, and I think it always will be. As good as Shake It Out sounds (it sounds SUPER), I have come to terms with the fact that Florence's music and I will never perfectly fit together. It's not her, it's me. I will always like (and often, REALLY like) her stuff, but will never love it (as much as I want to). As cool as I've aspired to be in the past, I'll forever remain the dorky gay Jewish boy from the burbs, and that's alright with me. However, that doesn't mean I won't enjoy her new album, Ceremonials. As expected, the cover is gorg, and I'm sure what's inside will be, as well. It's out today (Happy Halloween!), so go pick up a copy before digging your teeth into a 3 Musketeers.

I've liked Little Boots in a similar piecemeal fashion. A number of her songs are overly European for my Overprotected American ears, so I was initially resistant to her music. Little by little (pun unintended), though, the catchiness of her debut's tunes won me over. I LOVE Hearts Collide, which I included on our Spooky POP Playlist, Part 4. I also adore the Greg Kurstin produced New In Town (should totally have been released to American radio) and EarthquakeStuck On RepeatNo Brakes (perfect for nighttime driving), etc., etc., etc. (this list could go on and on). With time, her music has severely grown on me. She's similar to Robyn in that she combines electronic music with emotional lyrics. Many people call Little Boots the new Kylie. I like Ms. Minogue, and I do think she's far more talented than people give her credit for (ACOUSTIC   PROOF), but Little Boots is on another level. She's a classically trained musician who writes her music on the piano before adding any electronic elements. Afterward, she takes everything further with her use of the Tenori-On, a new musical instrument designed by a Japanese artist (according to Wikipedia). Little Boots has said that most of the instruments we play are centuries old, so she incorporates the Tenori-On, both in production and live performance, as a way to move music forward and innovate. On another note, Victoria's fashion aesthetic seems to be more innate and creatively conjured than Kylie's.

Her new song, Shake ('Till Your Heart Breaks), is super trancey. It definitely leans toward the European side of the dance equation, so it will take me time to warm up to (I REALLY want to - just don't know if it will happen or not). I can totally imagine myself getting sweaty and sloppy to this song, but it's missing the over-the-top American chorus that I'm accustomed to. However, it's impeccably produced and definitely gets me excited about her material to come. While Florence toured Lungs for almost three years, visiting America multiple times, Little Boots cut her first North American tour short as all the traveling was wearing on her. (I'd be absolutely exhausted after two years of promotion, too. The human body can only handle so much.) She took a well-deserved break, and naturally gravitated back to songwriting. These days, the music making cycle is insanely hectic, with POP stars releasing a new album right after the release of the last single from their previous album. It's nice to see an artist writing songs at a more natural, enjoyable pace - when they actually feel inspired, rather than running on a pre-defined label schedule.

Anyhow, I'm excited to see what's to come from these two gals. I'll definitely be listening to Florence & the Machine's Ceremonials over the next year, feeling out the tracks and acclimating myself to them, and will surely do the same with Little Boots' new album when it's unveiled. Let us know which of their two comeback singles you'd rather SHAKE it to in our poll up above!



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