No Sound Without Silence
When you remove the noise and bluster from Florence + The Machine songs, what is actually left?
The answer, happily, is quite a lot. The acoustic-only format of MTV's Unplugged series can trip up bands who rely heavily on studio effects, but although Florence Welch is no stranger to heavy-duty production techniques, her songs shine through bright and true here.
It helps, of course, that Welch can sing like a spectral, vivacious she-devil, and her insatiable holler sounds particularly arresting on the stripped-down Drumming Song and Cosmic Love. Songs such as Never Let Me Go and Breaking Down, which sounded bombastic on the overwrought last album, Ceremonials, gain in lustre in this gentler setting.
It's not all minimal, and a 10-piece New York gospel choir adds resonance to the tremulous Only For A Night. Florence's florid caterwaul pushes the needles into the red on Otis Redding's Try A Little Tenderness, but a measured duet with Josh Homme on the Johnny Cash and June Carter country staple Jackson is sweet and oddly haunting.
Those detractors who are allergic to Florence Welch's forceful vocal and ambitious pop will not be seduced by this entertaining outing. For her devoted army of followers, it will do just fine.