How Big How Blue How Beautiful

Florence + The Machine - How Big How Blue How Beautiful
Critic Score
Based on 30 reviews
2015 Ratings: #164 / 770
Year End Rank: #41
User Score
Based on 445 ratings
2015 Ratings: #47
June 2, 2015 / Release Date
LP / Format
Island / Republic / Label
Art Pop / Genres
Suggest a Genre
Abuse of this feature may prevent future contributions from your account.
Your Review


Time Out London
It’s taken three goes but to my mind, ‘How Big’ is her first really great album.
Entertainment Weekly

How Big is Welch’s most accomplished album yet, primarily because she doesn’t rely solely on operatics to make herself heard.

No Ripcord

The greater the risk, the greater the reward. And I can think of no better reward than this album.

The Line of Best Fit

How Big How Blue How Beautiful is a cathartic, devastatingly honest personal diary set to music.

Pretty Much Amazing

Every song on How Big How Blue How Beautiful instead strives to be a thermonuclear warhead. And Welch’s struggle, with heartbreak and sobriety, is their emotional payload.

Consequence of Sound

With HBHBHB, Welch has added a considerable amount of feeling to her catalog, and it should go down as one of the year’s most well-crafted personal statements.


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.


It's not a radical reformation of Welch's style; she hasn't stripped all the ornamentation from her cathedral of sound and become a folky confessional songwriter. But she is resorting less to abstract, lofty imagery and speaking with a more frank immediacy.

Despite trying out new things, the songs remain huge – the kind of power that is only truly effective when pumped out to thousands of people in a field somewhere. It makes for her best album to date, with some of the catchiest hooks and melodies she’s ever conjured up. How brilliant.
Getting personal in her own way, on her own terms, ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ could well be Florence’s finest hour of all. Things are only going to get bigger from here on in.

The 11 songs on Beautiful resonate in a deeper way by varying the sonic palette and focusing her words inward.

The 405

How Big... showcases a more restrained approach, allowing for quieter moments in which Welch can thrive.

Three albums into their career, Florence and The Machine know what they’re good at, and how to deliver what their fans want. Such confidence and self-assurance, when it consistently produces good albums, is something to be celebrated.
This is a huge, sturdy record, built for arenas ... and it's richly and carefully enough constructed to endure the extensive exposure Welch's heartache is going to get over the course of this summer.
Under The Radar

Welch and company have produced a series of songs that truly match the singer's formidable vocals while providing the players plenty of room to shine.

Drowned in Sound
She’s gone from making an album that felt in constant peril of collapsing under its own weight to one that carries her predilection for drama with genuine confidence - for now, at least, that’s redemption enough.
If this is meant to be a transitional record – and, despite the halfhearted attempt to tone the theatrics down a notch, it certainly appears to be – it’s an album that nonetheless ends with a promising look ahead.
Rolling Stone
Finally, Welch is leaning hard into the classic rock and soul sounds her vocals always flirted with, like Ophelia in a Mondrian miniskirt.

She gets it occasionally on How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, and the results are brilliant, but the album too often focuses on the latter two-thirds of the album title at the expense of the first.


She’s as huge and commanding as ever on How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, the third album under the Florence and the Machine name, but the music that surrounds her is coupled with hints of restraint, making the record her sleekest and most gorgeous yet.

This attempt to reign in Welch's more histrionic tendencies yields mixed results, with some songs finding the sweet spot between bluster and nuance and others (most of them in the album's sleepy latter half) disappearing altogether.

Florence & The Machine have delivered a much more dynamic record, that could draw in those put off by their overblown, dramatic sound.

The Guardian
It’s an album that’s too overblown and daft for the songs to have the desired emotional impact: it’s never really intimate enough for the feelings Welch expresses to connect.
This time around, Florence Welch's trials of agonizing love are amplified. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is best when it's anthemic, chugging along with booming drums and guitars and big choruses highlighting Welch's voice. Sequencing might be the biggest problem here, as the worst tracks (the downcast title track, "Various Storms and Saints", "Long and Lost" and "St. Jude") are sprinkled throughout the album.
Their third album is sonically different from Ceremonials in that the sound is less grand, more silent and there is a more careful approach to the songs. Also, it's more folky. These aspects should stand as praise for a band that does not stop experimenting with its sound. Albeit quite simple, certain songs stand among the band's greatest so far: Ship to Wreck, What Kind Of Man, Queen Of Peace,Delilah, St. Jude and Mother. The rest songs are fairly good and i would say that there are only two ... read more
Florence Welch, anecdotally in the press, has made it abundantly clear her creative process is filled with self-doubt. It’s strange to think of an artist as singular and unique as Welch (who produced one of the most headstrong and fully-formed debuts of this new century in “Lungs”), as unsure of herself, but “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”, like sophomore record “Ceremonials” before it, suffers from there being too many voices not only in ... read more
¿Cómo no amar a Florence Welch? esa dulzura y carisma en su interior, fiel reflejo de una persona que difícilmente podamos mirar con iniquidad, y que siempre tiene un lugar para cálidos elogios. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful es su tercer material de estudio, un material que no suena a ese estilo angelical que conocíamos de ella, pero que no se desgarran de sus letras, Florence madura en su sonido, y también en sus sensaciones al escribir, con una ... read more
I really enjoyed this album, the epic, orchestral, pop-rock fusion, and Florence vocals convey so much anger, pain, loneliness and peace. Most of my favorite songs come from the first half of the album, I specially loved the bridges of the songs. Sometimes strong and loud others soft and delicate, but always full of quality. I hope Florence + The Machine come back to this type of sound in the future.
Purchasing How Big How Blue How Beautiful from Amazon helps support Album of the Year. Or consider a donation?

Track List

  1. Ship to Wreck
  2. What Kind of Man
  3. How Big How Blue How Beautiful 
  4. Queen of Peace 
  5. Various Storms & Saints 
  6. Delilah
  7. Long & Lost 
  8. Caught 
  9. Third Eye 
  10. St Jude 
  11. Mother
Sign in to comment
No one has said anything yet.

Added on: February 12, 2015