“How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” — Florence and the Machine‘s new album released on June 2 — landed at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. That puts “How Big” above a bunch of pop acts it has little in common with, like the carefully crafted broad appeal efforts of Taylor Swift, whose easier listening charm proves durable — her “1989” hangs around at #2.
But Florence and the Machine are a British rock band in the mold of Jefferson Airplane, back when Grace Slick still wanted somebody to love. Florence Welch, the gorgeous red-headed 28-year-old lead singer in front of the Machine, dominates sonic space and consciousness with the conspicuous, angry power. Does the new record make some concessions in order to achieve such broad popularity? There are some who think so. But it’s still not Taylor Swift. The first Florence and the Machine album was released in 2009 and unexpectedly sold over a million records, even though radio play was largely limited to college and indie stations. This time will be very different.