Albums to watch

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence + The Machine

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Third studio album from Florence Welch's indie pop group, produced by Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Björk, Brian Eno, Mumford & Sons)

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  1. 10.0 |   Time Out

    This is an overwhelmingly accomplished record that deserves your time
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  2. 9.0 |   Gig Soup

    This album should enhance Florence Welch's reputation as one of the most talented female artistes, not just in the UK, but worldwide
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  3. 9.0 |   No Ripcord

    Welch may have lost her bearings and been forced to confront unpleasantries that bubbled to the surface, but she tackled these problems the same way as her entire career: with power, passion and grace
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  4. 8.5 |   The Line Of Best Fit

    A cathartic, devastatingly honest personal diary set to music
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  5. 8.3 |   Pretty Much Amazing

    How Big How Blue How Beautiful may just be a better record than the one it follows. It chisels at Ceremonials’ baroque marble sculpture to reveal something smaller and more appealing
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  6. 8.3 |   Consequence Of Sound

    With HBHBHB, Welch has added a considerable amount of feeling to her catalog, and it should go down as one of the year’s most well-crafted personal statements
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  7. 8.2 |   Earbuddy

    A sharp, streamlined yet equally enjoyable record
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  8. 8.0 |   FasterLouder

    Three albums into their career, Florence and The Machine know what they’re good at, and how to deliver what their fans want
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  9. 8.0 |   The 405

    An impressive record that seems to be ushering in a new, exciting era for Florence and the Machine
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  10. 8.0 |   God Is In The TV

    She continues to effectively use metaphors from literature, poetry and art to describe heart-aching issues
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  11. 8.0 |   Paste Magazine

    She sounds liberated in sprawl, veering from soulful shouters (“Delilah”) to measured electro-pop ballads (“St. Jude”)
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  12. 8.0 |   Digital Spy

    One of the most majestic crash landings in music
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  13. 8.0 |   DIY

    Could well be Florence’s finest hour of all. Things are only going to get bigger from here on in
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  14. 8.0 |   NME

    A restrained but joyful return, and a collection that will last long after Welch’s broken bones are mended
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  15. 8.0 |   Q

    This time there's less moping, more righteous indignation, a fresh sense of purpose. Print edition only

  16. 8.0 |   Mojo

    More lyrically direct and honest, even if sonically the lure of The Big Music remains strong for Welch. Print edition only

  17. 8.0 |   State

    Welch is refining her sound further still on album three, focussing on that balance between organic and electronic
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  18. 8.0 |   musicOMH

    Her best album to date, with some of the catchiest hooks and melodies she’s ever conjured up
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  19. 8.0 |   Evening Standard

    The sound is huge, with that mighty voice multitracked so that there always seems to be at least 10 of her
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  20. 7.6 |   Pitchfork

    This is a huge, sturdy record, built for arenas and it's richly and carefully enough constructed to endure the extensive exposure Welch's heartache is going to get over the course of this summer
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  21. 7.5 |   Under The Radar

    Welch and company have produced a series of songs that truly match the singer's formidable vocals while providing the players plenty of room to shine
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  22. 7.5 |   Spectrum Culture

    How Big may find Florence and the Machine simplifying their approach, yet this album may be their most varied, and it is without question their best to date
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  23. 7.0 |   PopMatters

    Florence Welch is still the master of massive choruses, but on How Big How Blue, How Beautiful, she also finds restraint
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  24. 7.0 |   Spin

    The album too often focuses on the latter two-thirds of the album title at the expense of the first
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  25. 7.0 |   Rolling Stone

    Art-pop diva Florence Welch returns with a renewed love for loud guitars and soul vocals
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  26. 7.0 |   Sputnik Music (staff)

    As gaudy as Florence and the Machine can get, the hypnotic heights the group reaches as “Mother” soars through that cloud of distortion is why we listen to them in the first place
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  27. 7.0 |   Drowned In Sound

    She’s gone from making an album that felt in constant peril of collapsing under its own weight to one that carries her predilection for drama with genuine confidence
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  28. 7.0 |   The Music

    The arrangements are grandiose as Welch and her collaborators smother much of this album in lush orchestral moments that sparkle
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  29. 6.0 |   The Arts Desk

    Although high on the drama, lyrically the album is as grounded as Welch’s work has ever been
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  30. 6.0 |   All Music

    When the album connects it moves right in and starts to redecorate, but when it falters, it's akin to a chatty party guest failing to realize that everyone else has gone home.
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  31. 6.0 |   The Independent

    This is Welch facing up to reality, confronting her emotional demons in a frank manner
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  32. 6.0 |   The Observer

    Finds her circling the drain of an imploded relationship, this time with novel directness
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  33. 6.0 |   The Guardian

    It’s an album that’s too overblown and daft for the songs to have the desired emotional impact: it’s never really intimate enough for the feelings Welch expresses to connect
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  34. 6.0 |   The Irish Times

    A brisk display of regained confidence and strength
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  35. 6.0 |   Uncut

    This is a sturdy and good-looking set of songs. Print edition only

  36. 6.0 |   Clash

    Florence & The Machine have delivered a much more dynamic record, that could draw in those put off by their overblown, dramatic sound
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  37. 4.0 |   The List

    An unsubtle fan pleaser following tried-and-tested formulas
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