In Defense of ... Florence and the Machine's "Shake It Out"
In late 2009, America encountered a British band named Florence and The Machine on music charts and the web. My first thought when I heard "machine" in its name was that Florence Welch and her band must have some nifty sci-fi theme. When I finally heard Lungs, what I got was actually better than robots or spaceships. The British ensemble performed an artsy mix of cathedral gospel, worldly percussion and sharp lyricism that managed to shake out comparisons to Kate Bush.
Not even Glee's emasculating cover of "Dog Days Are Over" could ruin the solid foundation on which that song was built. It actually took a morning show dog parade over "Dog Days" to ruin that song for me -- way to miss the point of the song, dog lovers. When I hear that song now, I see a gray shih tzu trotting along with its short, feather-duster legs.
While a few hipster kitties have thrown off Florence and the Machine like a smelly hoodie since the cascading popularity of Lungs, the band's sophomore album Ceremonials came out last month to critical acclaim.
Ceremonials' second single, "Shake It Out," represents the band's more energetic, poppy side. The hook resembles the refrain from Cyndie Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
With the stadium-pop energy of "Shake it Out," it's given that a few listeners will miss the point Flo makes in the lyrics. In keeping with the band's often dark, mythological theme, "Shake it Out" brings to mind exorcism ("... it's hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off") and a remembering bad experiences (I'm always dragging that horse around). Florence must really like horses, cause the chorus to "Dog Days" mentioned them too.
The most obvious theme of "Shake it Out" is a hangover. So this track will probably be on everyone's mind on come January 1. If not, I -- a teetotaler sadist -- might play Flo's wailing chorus to the sky.
New Year's Day is gonna be great.