Florence + the Machine’s excellent new album Dance Fever is Florence Welch’s attempt to describe her pandemic experience. What the bewitching bandleader learned about herself, more than anything, is that she lives to be on stage, moving and howling for thousands of fans.
The album finds comfort in that fact, filled to the brim with a desire for movement. “Girls Against God” is a softly angry song, encapsulating her righteous rage at the skies for having the thing she loves taken away from her. In expressing that, she writes some of the most beautiful and relatable lyrics about the sense of helplessness and isolation so many of us felt in 2020.
The stand-out track shares a name with a Jenny Hval book about witches, time travel and black metal. The scenes in Welch’s tune, which relies more on folk simplicity than the type of arena-level baroque pop she’s known for, feel pedestrian in comparison to the cosmic fantasies she often paints. “And it’s good to be alive/Crying into cereal at midnight,” she sings on the chorus. She shortly follows with a humorous gut punch: “I listen to music from 2006 and I feel kind of sick.”
The song is full of moments of personal, nostalgic memories for Welch. She recalls being in the musician Tom Vek’s basement as a young, aspiring artist herself. The fantasies she has now are of passively waiting in the wings of a stage. Welch’s penchant for grandiosity comes in the form of shaking her fist at the sky, directing anger and sadness towards God and what’s been wrought. She sings her threats with so much conviction, you almost believe she could win this Holy War she’s waging: “Oh God, you’re gonna get it/You’ll be sorry that you messed with us.” She grounds herself later, reminding us and her that she’s “another screaming speck of dust” among the billions who can’t do much but stare at her bedroom floor.
Her producer Jack Antonoff called this one of his favorites, saying on Instagram that it was “one of the best moments during a dark time.” It’s hard to disagree.
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