Despite the isolation and exhaustion of the pandemic, what surfaced was a handful of albums that brought us back to the dancefloor when the couch was the furthest we had moved in months. It’s impossible not to associate that tumultuous time with albums like Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia and Lady Gaga’s Chromatica, as well. If those were the records that brought us through the darkest moments, Florence + the Machine’s Dance Fever (out Friday, May 13th) is the one that’s returning us to the light.
It’s no surprise, though, that bandleader Florence Welch is the one also ushering us back into a new kind of reality: She’s long-exhumed the depths of her emotions through the power of booming, bewitching vocals and life-affirming choreography. And that’s no different on Dance Fever, an explosive expression of unity in the face of strife and an exuberant expression of hope.
Written in London during the pandemic, Dance Fever was inspired by the Russian phenomenon of “choreomania” — where people dance until collapse. While choreography has always been a mainstay of Welch’s shows, it was perhaps more intertwined than ever with her fifth studio LP, which feels like a natural evolution from 2015’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful and 2018’s High As Hope. On Dance Fever, Welch taps into her power, ribbing the persona she created, tackling the darkness and finding power in redemption.
On opener “King,” Welch is anything but self-serious as she quips, “I need my empty halls to echo with grand self-mythology/ ’Cause I am no mother, I am no bride, I am king.” Perhaps her finest moment is the chill-inducing synth-rock anthem with “Free” — a career-defining track that somehow encapsulates the push and pull of anxiety and despair. “I’m on fire, but I’m trying not to show it,” she admits.
Recalling the concept that helped shape the record, “Choreomania” is a skittering, haunting balm that puts Welch’s sweeping vocals on display. “I’m so out of breath/I just kept spinning/and I dance myself to death,” she chants as if it’s an affirmation.