After teasing new material, Florence and the Machine have officially returned with their first new song in nearly two years, the anthemic and operatic ‘King’.
Granted, calling a Florence and the Machine song “anthemic and operatic” is like calling the sky blue, but ‘King’ is quite a slow burn compared to most of the group’s sweeping back catalogue. With a propulsive bassline and low-key vocals from Florence Welch at the start, the beginning of the track honestly sounds more like a Haim song than anything else.
But this is still Florence, so it’s only a matter of time before the fuse gets lit and the belting starts. Except, every time you think it’s about to take off, ‘King’ seems to delay its launch. There are a few different points where it feels as though the epic track falls away and isn’t actually going to reach any epic heights.
Spoiler alert: right around the three-minute mark, Welch finally opens wide and lets it all out, with the Machine dutifully bashing away in the background. With layers of pianos, strings, and guitars blasting away, the triumphant flashpoint that we all want out of the band’s music comes in. So does the harp, which sneaks in at the very end as the song is on its comedown. Florence and the Machine are a versatile act, but they certainly have a signature sound that gets played with on referenced on ‘King’.
Lyrically, the track plays with gender norms and the complexities that come with subverting them. “As an artist, I never actually thought about my gender that much,” Welch explains in a statement. “I just got on with it. I was as good as the men and I just went out there and matched them every time”.
Adding: “But now, thinking about being a woman in my 30s and the future, I suddenly feel this tearing of my identity and my desires. 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. I had modelled myself almost exclusively on male performers, and for the first time I felt a wall come down between me and my idols as I have to make decisions they did not.”
Check out the official video for ‘King’ down below.