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Florence + the Machine – Hurricane Drunk

1280x720-sezIf you’re a new act that’s got an absolute belter of an debut album in your back pocket ready to unleash upon the world, choosing the first couple of singles is an inexact science.

The risk you take is setting your stall out with a big hitter and then releasing singles in ever-decreasing circles of impressiveness (as recently discovered by Ella Henderson), or putting out your – for instance – third best track, hoping for some traction among the tastemakers, and then revealing your must-be smash hit just as you’re entering the public consciousness (as achieved by Years & Years). Back in 2008, Florence + The Machine opted for the former and sent Dog Days Are Over to radio as their second single, limping into the charts at no.89.

Fast forward to 2010 and You’ve Got The Love has just gone huge. Hurricane Drunk is being readied as the follow-up single but, after being used in a couple of adverts and films, Dog Days instead gets a hasty re-release in the hope of riding a tidal wave of public interest. As it happened, this had passed by the time of the actual release date; it peaked at no.23 on downloads alone, 8 weeks before the re-release happened.

I could wax lyrical at this point about greedy and slow-witted record labels but I’m starting to feel (sound the pun klaxon) like a broken record. And since every band needs a good ‘lost single’, so Hurricane Drunk became Florence’s (they’d made a video and everything, but the vocals towards the end were updated – to its detriment – so here’s the superior album version:)

Hurricane Drunk is such an emotive title, isn’t it? Because we’ve all been there. At the time I was first listening to the Lungs album I was there rather often after the disintegration of a lengthy and intense relationship, including at the gig where they performed the entire track listing… save for this one song. The one I had gone to sing along to.

This is the antithesis to the ‘screw-you-I’m-better-off-alone’ kind of break-up song; this is a ‘my-life-is-ruined-pass-the-absinthe’ kind of break-up song. More than that, it is a despairing, hopelessly self-indulgent and terrifying spiral into self-destruction. “I’m in the grip of a hurricane / I’m gonna blow myself away” is slightly heavy-handed songwriting, but the chorus is so huge and anthemic that you sort of don’t mind. You won’t even mind that it fades out at the end; for me this usually feels like a cop-out, but here it merely acts to symbolise the way hurricanes wear themselves out and eventually disappear.

Elsewhere, the bridge is a genius moment of clarity in the whirring and blurriness of late-stage binge drinking: the musical embodiment of the silent, out-of-body experience you feel when you see your ex across a crowded dance floor with someone new. “Then you lean and kiss her on the head / And I’ve never felt so alive, and so dead”.

It’s visceral. And that’s when I realised that heart and lungs are intrinsically connected. Bravo, Flo.


Entered chart: was not released

Who could sing this today and have a hit? Florence herself – it feels like she needs one.

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