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Song You Need to Know: Florence and the Machine, ‘Haunted House’

Florence Welch blesses fans with an understated but stirring one-off single about fears and regrets

Florence WelchFlorence And The Machine in concert, The O2, London, UK - 22 Nov 2018

Florence And The Machine in concert at The O2 in London.

Dan Reid/REX/Shutterstock

Florence and the Machine are still touring in support of last year’s excellent High As Hope, but if that’s not enough, they’ve just blessed fans with a pair of new tracks. “Haunted House” is the more demure of the two, a stirring example of singer Florence Welch’s particularly powerful approach to vulnerability.

On “Haunted House,” which is less than two minutes long and significantly less spooky than the title indicates, Welch laments that her “heart is like a haunted house.” Her fears and insecurities whisper to her in the night, leaving effects even after she wakes. The song starts simply, her voice in its chilling upper register above a slowly played piano accompaniment. As she begins recalling the memories that haunt her, the harmonies pick up. She recites “I’m not free at all” like an incantation as those harmonies and layers of her own voice swallow her whole before returning to the lonely arrangement of just her lead vocal and the piano.

“Haunted House” is reminiscent of other underrated moments in Florence and the Machine’s discography, all of which are understandably overshadowed by the arena-filling, baroque anthems that have become the band’s signature songs. It hints at “St. Jude,” the cool and reflective ode to the “patron saint of the lost causes,” or the pop-leaning “I’m Not Calling You Liar.” All are pleasant reminders of one of rock and pop’s most adaptable voices.

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