Over the past year, Florence Welch and her marvelous “Machine,” supported by an excellent debut album, Lungs, have broken through into the mainstream. And it’s about time. Welch’s raven-haired, mystic/goth/goddess persona, coupled with lush, sweeping musical arrangements and a helluva set of vocal pipes, make for one of the most intriguing acts in rock music today. Most people know her for the hit single, “Dog Days Are Over,” but there’s much more to this band than just one catchy song. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Dog Days,” but there are numerous gems on their debut album that deserve to be heard.
One of the songs that is most at-odds with the rest of the album’s tracks is the sensational “Kiss With A Fist.” This was actually the band’s first single, making a minor splash in England back in 2009. While the majority of Florence’s compositions constitute dark, richly orchestrated chamber pop, “Kiss With A Fist” is a blast of raw, stripped down punk energy. Clocking in at just over two minutes, it sports only giddy, chugging lo-fi guitars and drumstick tapping. Florence wails over the feedback about a love-hate relationship. No, it’s not a song about domestic violence, despite what the song’s lyrics might suggest (“sit back and watch the bed burn,” “you hit me once / I hit you back”). Rather, it just speaks to the classic idea that, in the words of John Mellencamp, love can hurt so good. It’s all summed up by the instantly memorable title line, “a kick in the teeth is good for some / a kiss with a fist is better than none.” Love can be irritating or painful sometimes, but it’s still an amazing feeling.