"The first record was quite ethereal and floaty," singer Florence Welch says of her band's 2009 breakthrough LP, Lungs. "For this one, I wanted something tougher, almost violent. I didn't want to shy away from using big beats." Working with producer Paul Epworth, fresh off Adele's summer smash "Rolling in the Deep," Welch immersed herself in old-school electronic acts like Suicide and Silver Apples – and makes good on her promise. Cuts such as lead single "What the Water Gave Me" and "Shake It Out" marry heavy guitars and dense rhythm tracks with Welch's tormented-heroine imagery and the band's trademark harp. While recording at London's Abbey Road studios, Welch amused herself between takes by watching out-of-towners ogle the famed crosswalk outside. "People were crawling over it and lying down in the middle," the singer says. "It was part of my entertainment to go watch the tourists."
By David Browne