Florence Welch’s pandemic album turns her intensity inward, interrogating her relationship to performance and public image. These are her most personal lyrics, and among her most poignant.
From those uncanny origins, the new album arrives as a sweeping, grandiose statement, no less outsized than Welch’s past releases but more internal and lyrically cohesive. The songs concern devils and angels and life and death, but Dance Fever is more fascinating as a self-interrogation—these are Welch’s most personal lyrics, and among her most poignant. “Every song I wrote became an escape rope tied around my neck to pull me up to heaven,” she rasps at the end of “Heaven Is Here,” and that horror at her own compulsions reverberates throughout the album. On Dance Fever, Welch stays trapped indoors, sobbing into bowls of cereal at midnight, trying to comfort herself with the crumbs of her own image. She built her public persona by beaming the grandest, fiercest emotions out to a crowd; left alone, she turns that intensity inward.