How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Florence and the Machine - How Big How Blue How Beautiful (Official Album Cover)
Studio album by Florence and the Machine
Released May 29, 2015
Recorded 2014
Length 48:46
Label Island Records
Producer(s) Markus Dravs, Paul Epworth
Florence and the Machine chronology
Florence and the Machine - MTV Unplugged Florence and the Machine - How Big How Blue How Beautiful (Official Album Cover)
(2012) (2015) (N/A)
Singles from How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
  1. "What Kind of Man"
    Released: February 12, 2015
  2. "St. Jude"(Promotional Single)
    Released: March 23, 2015
  3. "Ship to Wreck"
    Released: April 8, 2015
  4. "Delilah"(Promotional Single)
    Released: May 19, 2015

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Not to be confused with the song of the same name

'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful' is the third studio album by the English indie rock band Florence and the Machine, released on May 29, 2015 in Germany and on June 1 2015 in the UK through Island Records. It is the band's first studio album in three and a half years and was produced by Markus Dravs. Paul Epworth produced the album closing track "Mother".


In 2011, the band released their second album, Ceremonials, which reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and number six on the US Billboard 200.[1] The album included the song "Spectrum (Say My Name)" which was remixed by Scottish musician Calvin Harris and became the band's first UK number-one hit.

In mid-2012, it was announced that Universal Republic Records was going defunct, moving all artists including Florence and the Machine to Republic Records making the label itself revived. In late August 2012, lead singer Florence Welch told Style magazine that she plans to take a twelve-month hiatus before starting to work on the band's next studio album, stating, "There's a big 'take a year off' plan.[2] The record company have put no pressure on me for the next album. They've said I can have as long as I want."

In an interview with Zane Lowe, Welch said that during the year off she had "a bit of a nervous breakdown," and that time was a little chaotic. "I was still going out and going to events but something wasn't quite right, I was spiraling a bit. I wasn't making myself happy. I wasn't stable." She added, "It was a really vulnerable time for me when we first started making the record and because of that it's the most personal record I've ever made."

Composition and recording Edit

In an interview with Zane Lowe on 16 February 2015, Welch said that during the year off she had "a bit of a nervous breakdown", and that time was chaotic. The hiatus was somewhat new for the singer, who was almost constantly at work during the making of the band's first two albums. Welch explained further, saying, "I was still going out and going to events but something wasn't quite right, I was spiraling a bit. I wasn't making myself happy. I wasn't stable." It allowed Welch to reassess her musical approach to reflect her own life experiences, a change she credits to consulting with Taylor Swift. Overall, the recording sessions for How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful were conducted during a vulnerable period in Welch's life, making the album her most personal work thus far.[3]

Welch began composing the material for How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful upon concluding the band's touring in support of Ceremonials, in 2014.[4] Regarding the album's themes, she said in a press statement, "I guess although I've always dealt in fantasy and metaphor when I came to writing, that meant the songs this time were dealing much more in reality. Ceremonials was so fixated on death and water, and the idea of escape or transcendence through death, but the new album became about trying to learn how to live, and how to love in the world rather than trying to escape from it. Which is frightening because I'm not hiding behind anything but it felt like something I had to do."[5] Welch also told Lowe that producer Markus Dravs was instrumental in exploring her lyrical versatility, as he disallowed her to write any more songs about water, a main theme in Welch's past compositions. Still, she managed to pen "Ship to Wreck", a song Welch jokingly commented was "not too explicit" in comparison to her past works.

Promotion Edit

Main article: How Big Tour Edit

On 10 February 2015, Florence and the Machine released a music video featuring a snippet of the album's title track, "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful". The video, which showed Welch dancing with her look-alike, was directed by Tabitha Denholm and Vincent Haycock, and served as an album teaser.[6]

Florence and the Machine performed "What Kind of Man" and "Ship to Wreck" on Later... with Jools Holland on 28 April 2015.[17] On 9 May, the band performed both songs on Saturday Night Live. The group performed "Ship to Wreck" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on June 2.

The band performed at numerous European festivals in summer 2015, including Way Out West in Sweden, Super Bock Super Rock in Portugal and Rock Werchterin Belgium, among others. On 9 September 2015, the group's tour in support of the album kicked off in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The Odyssey Edit

Main article: The Odyssey Edit

The band has released a series of music videos for several songs in the album, with each video acting as a chapter in a story titled The Odyssey. It currently has six chapters: Edit

The band has released a series of music videos for several songs on the album, with each video acting as a chapter in a story titled The Odyssey. It currently has six chapters:

  • Chapter One: "What Kind of Man"[7]
  • Chapter Two: "St. Jude"[8]
  • Chapter Three: "Ship to Wreck"[9]
  • Chapter Four: "Queen of Peace"[10]
  • Chapter Five: "Long & Lost"[11]
  • Chapter Six: "Delilah"[12]

Singles Edit

"What Kind of Man" was released as the lead single from the album two days after the "How Big. How Blue, How Beautiful" teaser. The song was premiered onBBC Radio 1 on 12 February 2015 at 7:30 p.m. local time along with an announcement of the album's release date, title and track listing. The music video, directed by Vincent Haycock and choreographed by Ryan Heffington,[13] premiered online shortly afterwards, along with the album's pre-order. The single reached number 37 on the UK Singles Chart and number 88 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[14][15] On 18 April 2015, the song was issued as a limited-edition 12-inch vinyl on Record Store Day, featuring "As Far as I Could Get" as its B-side.

"Ship to Wreck" was released as the second single on 8 April 2015. The music video for the song, also shot by Haycock, choreographed by Heffington and filmed in Welch's own house, was released on 13 April. The track peaked at number 27 on the UK chart.[16]

"Queen of Peace" was released as the album's third single on 4 September 2015. The music video was issued months prior to the single on 27 July 2015 as a 10-minute double-feature, including the song "Long and Lost", and was filmed on the seaside of the Scottish town of Easdale.

"Delilah" was released as the fourth single from the album on 27 November 2015. The track premiered as a Hottest Record on Annie Mac's BBC Radio 1 show on 19 May 2015, and its accompanying music video premiered on 21 October.

Other songs Edit

A music video for "St. Jude" premiered on 23 March 2015. Considered to be a continuation of the video for "What Kind of Man", it was also directed by Haycock and choreographed by Heffington and sees Florence Welch "traveling through their version of the Divine Comedy."[17]

Critical reception Edit

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns aweighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 77, based on 31 reviews. Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly viewed How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful as "Florence + the Machine's most raw and stripped-down album to date", adding that "Welch may have gone slightly smaller with her sound, but her emotional depth and capacity for wonder remain gigantic." Michael Madden of Consequence of Sound hailed it as "the strongest Florence album to date" due to Welch having "reached a new level of eloquence in her writing, making her a more complete artist than ever", concluding that "it's apparent she's among her generation's most deserving superstars, maintaining a stunning balance of technical mastery and sensitive lyricism." Leonie Cooper of the NME wrote, "Overflowing with stately songwriting and lyrical craftsmanship, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful makes for a restrained but joyful return, and a collection that will last long after Welch's broken bones are mended." Carl Wilson of Billboard commented, "No matter the mood and tempo, though, the Florence & The Machine heard on How Big How Blue How Beautiful is a newly self-aware one. It shows a different kind of mastery by allowing for a different kind of vulnerability, an especially delicate balancing act for a young woman in pop music."[18]

Accolades Edit

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was shortlisted for the 2015 Mercury Prize.[19] It has also received five nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards, including Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Recording Package for the album, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance for "What Kind of Man", and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Ship to Wreck".[20]

Publication List Rank
ABC News 50 Albums of 2015 13
American Songwriter Top 50 Albums of 2015 32
Billboard 25 Best Albums of 2015 17
Consequence of Sound Top 50 Albums of 2015 41
Entertainment Weekly The 40 Best Albums of 2015 15
Gigwise Albums of the Year 50
The Huffington Post The Best Albums of 2015 6
NME Albums of the Year 2015 40
Paste The 50 Best Albums of 2015 29
PopMatters The 80 Best Albums of 2015 44
People Best Albums of 2015 5
Q Top 50 Albums of 2015 10
Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2015 22
20 Best Pop Albums of 2015 3
Time Out London The 50 Best Albums of 2015 4
Under the Radar Top 100 Albums of 2015 36

Commercial performanceEdit

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of 68,788 copies, earning the band their third consecutive number-one album.[21] The album slipped to number two for two weeks in a row,[22] before reclaiming the number-one spot in its fourth week on the chart, with 14,419 copies sold.[23] In the United States, the album debuted atop the Billboard 200 with 137,000 equivalent album units sold, of which 128,000 were pure album sales. It marked the band's first number-one album on the chart, as well as their largest sales week.[24] As of December 2015, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful has sold 290,000 copies in the US.[25] The album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 19,000 copies in its first week.[26]

Elsewhere, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful topped the charts in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland and Switzerland, while reaching the top five in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Spain, and the top 10 in Finland, Greece, Italy and Sweden.


No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Ship to Wreck" Florence Welch, Tom Hull Markus Dravs, Kid Harpoon 3:54
2. "What Kind of Man" Florence Welch, Kid Harpoon, John Hill Markus Dravs, John Hill 3:36
3. "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" Florence Welch, Isabella Summers Markus Dravs 5:34
4. "Queen of Peace" Florence Welch, Markus Dravs Markus Dravs 5:07
5. "Various Storms and Saints" Florence Welch, Markus Dravs Markus Dravs 4:09
6. "Delilah" Florence Welch, [Isabella Summers Markus Dravs 4:53
7. "Long & Lost" Florence Welch, Ester Dean Markus Dravs 3:15
8. "Caught" Florence Welch, James Ford Markus Dravs 4:24
9. "Third Eye" Florence Welch Markus Dravs 4:20
10. "St. Jude" Florence Welch, James Ford Markus Dravs 3:45
11. "Mother" Florence Welch, Paul Epworth Paul Epworth 5:49
Vinyl Box Set Bonus Track
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
12. "As Far as I Could Get" Florence Welch N/A 4:06
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
12. "Hiding" Florence Welch, James Ford James Ford 3:52
13. "Make Up Your Mind" Florence Welch, Kid Harpoon Charlie Hugall, Kid Harpoon 4:01
14. "Which Witch (Demo)" Florence Welch, Isabella Summers Isabella Summers 4:19
15. "Third Eye (Demo)" Florence Welch Brett Shaw 4:15
16. "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Demo)" Florence Welch, Isabella Summers isabella Summers 4:32

Target Bonus Tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
17. "Pure Feeling" Florence Welch, James Ford N/A 4:08
17. "Conductor" Florence Welch, Dan Wilson N/A 4:52

References Edit