Dance Fever

Florence + the Machine

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Dance Fever Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

Just as nature blossoms to life during springtime, so do Florence + the Machine with their triumphant fifth album, Dance Fever. This vernal revival is patient to reveal its full scope, but once these songs settle in, it's a transformative journey that's spiritually on par with 2009's Lungs and 2015's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful in emotional depth and uplifting power. At first glance of the title (and eyeing producers Jack Antonoff, Glass Animals' Dave Bayley, and Kid Harpoon), fans might expect a disco-kissed, dancefloor romp, but Dance Fever is more pure and pastoral in its interpretation of the titular movement: a primal act of ecstasy that takes inspiration from the choreomania phenomenon, where groups of people burst into dance frenzies to the point of exhaustion or injury. With that in mind, Florence Welch and company invite listeners to their sacred ceremony to find healing, empowerment, and catharsis through song and physical response ("Heaven Is Here" could conjure an entire army of spirits). The most immediate expressions come with "Free" and "My Love." The former track is an urgent, synths-and-guitar pop thrill that sounds like Antonoff's band Bleachers taking on an early-aughts Bloc Party or Strokes number, while the latter is one of the band's best singles, the closest this album comes to nailing the expected level of mainstream "dance" energy with its shimmering production, heaving beat, and festival-sized chorus. "Choreomania" percolates to life with Welch's confessional spoken word delivery and a sparse, skittering beat, slowly building to an explosive, euphoric end packed with strings, pounding percussion, and joyous cries of "I just keep spinning and I dance myself to death." "Cassandra" is similarly rapturous, swelling with church organs and Welch's trilling vocals that recalls the dramatics of Ceremonials. The shiver-inducing "Daffodil" follows a similar route, a showstopping highlight that sways and stomps with cinematic might, clattering to a close with a cacophony of drums and heaving breaths. Meanwhile, the bold "King," the threatening harps-and-horns "Girls Against God," and the seething "Dream Girl Evil" empower with some of the strongest lyrics and personal insight on the album. While this effort may not be Welch's surprise transformation into a full-on pop diva, Dance Fever is a generous offering to the goddesses of dance and restorative energy.

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