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5th March 2022

Florence + The Machine return to the throne with new single ‘King’

Florence + the Machine confront misogyny in the music industry on new single ‘King.’ Molly Gregson reviews.
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Florence + The Machine return to the throne with new single ‘King’
Photo: Autumn De Wilde @ Press

Written by Molly Gregson.

Florence Welch, vocalist and lyricist behind Florence + the Machine, has garnered a reputation for anthemic instrumentals and dramatic vocal crescendos. The band’s brand-new single ‘King’ is no different. 

It is the group’s first release since 2021’s ‘Call Me Cruella’ which was part of the soundtrack to Disney’s Cruella, and their first album-related single since 2018. In between this time Florence + the Machine have released a few scattered tracks. 2019 saw the single ‘Moderation’ and its B-side ‘Haunted House’. In 2020 we got ‘Light of Love’- a track originally recorded for the 2018 album High as Hope but released as a charity single for the Intensive Care Society at the start of the pandemic.

The more recent releases for Florence + The Machine have moved away from the flashy and chaotic choruses of their earlier and more popular singles, but Florence Welch retains her sense of cinematic symbolism. ‘King’ sees Florence taking on the role of royalty as a means to explore the expectations and pressure she grapples with both as an artist and as a woman maturing into her mid-thirties. 

In a statement released alongside the single, Welch remarked that “as an artist, I never actually thought about my gender that much. I just got on with it, I was as good as the men and I just went out there and matched them every time. But now, thinking about being a woman in my thirties and the future, I suddenly feel this tearing of my identity and my desires.” She further added that “to be a performer but also to want a family might not be as simple for me as it is for my male counterparts”.

Florence Welch has previously illustrated a lyrical propensity for applying melodramatic analogies to deeply personal and intimate scenarios. ‘King’ plays with these familiar tropes, with the artist taking on a regal role to explore the introspective, feminine pressures she has experienced. “I am no mother, I am no bride, I am King” the chorus chants. It is a mantra that declares she will not be cowed by traditional female expectations; she is equal among men in the music industry and should be treated as such. Her declarations, despite this idiosyncratic narrative, encompass a more universal message of the difficulties and joys that come from expressing gender identity. Through building the production up to a singular howling note, accompanied by orchestral instrumentals, and then settling down into a more muted outro tone, Florence Welch emphasises the heaviness, the lightness, and the mundanity of womanhood.

The release of ‘King’ also came with a new layout for the band’s official website. It depicts fifteen tarot card-esque images, the first of which is flipped to show the ‘King’ single cover, suggesting a fifteen-song track list for the eventual album will follow.  No release date or title has been set for the new album. Fan theories suggest another single rumoured to be titled ‘Heaven is Here’ could drop as soon as March 7, but as of yet this is unconfirmed.

Check out the music video directed by Autumn De Wilde below:

 


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