Anyone that knows me knows that Florence + The Machine is my all time favorite musician. One of the things I like best about Flo is her ability to integrate dark imagery into her songs. That being said, I’m counting down her top 5 creepiest songs, for your listening pleasure! I based my list not off of which songs I like best, but which I think are the darkest lyrically and musically.
1. Seven Devils- If ever there was a song that sounded like an audible exorcism, this is it. This is a song packed full of fury! Florence’s wailing could be that of the devils or that of someone trying to cast them out. There are a few different ways to look at this song. I think it is without a doubt an internal struggle with herself, rather than with another individual. Some have interpreted it as being related to the seven deadly sins. On that same note, it’s worth noting that Jesus supposedly cast seven devils out of Mary Magdalene. In an interview Florence states that she took the the term “seven devils” from a book called If He Hollers, Let Him Go. The book follows an African American man and his experiences with racism during WWII. Regardless of the meaning of the song, there is no denying the feeling of sheer power it evokes.
2. Howl- Howl is my favorite of all Florence’s songs. It’s a tale of love turned into obsession, couched in a werewolf metaphor. Florence describes with the painful accuracy of a needle prick how love can consume the best of us and turn anyone into a monster. She even borrows the most famous line from The Wolfman and reworks it to fit the track. When she sings the word “howl” she actually sounds like a wolf crying out to the moon.
3. Blinding- Blinding is a surreal vision of soul shattering despair. It’s hard to say what exactly is the cause of this despair, but it certainly seems like Flo had some of her hopes and dreams destroyed by some sort of unfathomable truth. When she sings “No more calling like a crow, for a boy, for a body in the garden.”, I think she may be referring to the Garden of Eden. I like all of the sound effects in this song. At the beginning of the song you can hear her laughter, then you hear a distorted crow’s caw. Then the drums pick up and it’s like hearing her awakening to this world she doesn’t want to exist in. Later you hear a series of whispers, followed by Florence sucking in a heavy breath. The sound effects alone tell the story.
4. Girl With One Eye- Ok, so Florence didn’t actually write this one, but she adopted it and it’s her baby now. I’ve heard a lot of interpretations about this song. Some see it as one girl warning another girl to stay away from her man, others see it as a song about a relationship between two women. I haven’t quite decided what I think it means. I just know it’s menacing as hell! This song is more stripped down than the average Florence + The Machine song. The melody of the guitar evokes a feeling of Nancy Sinatra’s My Baby Shot me Down. Florence’s bellowing at the end of the song sounds like someone having the ultimate of mental breakdowns. It’s safe to say that I wouldn’t want to be the titular “girl” she sings of.
5. – This song reminds me of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Both revolve around narrators who are consumed by guilt that manifests itself as a pulsing beat. Ultimately, both seem to cave under the pressure. It’s also possible that like the man in The Tell-Tale Heart, Flo may have murdered someone. In the chorus, she sings of moving towards a body, of course this body could be a living one, rather than a corpse. Throughout the song she attempts to find release through spiritual means, like running to a church, and undergoing some sort of baptism. However, nothing eases her conscience. It’s possible that she ends up drowning herself. It’s all open for interpretation.