Lungs is the debut studio album by English indie rock band Florence and the Machine, released on 3 July 2009 by Island Records. The album debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart for five weeks after its release. On 10 January 2010 the album returned to number two extending its stay at the runner-up spot to six non-consecutive weeks. The following week it reached its new peak position of number one for two consecutive weeks. So far it has spent sixty-five consecutive weeks within the top forty and thirty-three of those inside the top ten. It also peaked at number two for six weeks on the Irish Albums Chart.
The album was a main contender for the 2009 Mercury Prize and received largely positive reviews from music critics. Additionally, it won the MasterCard British Album award at the 2010 BRIT Awards. Lungs has sold more than three million copies worldwide.
Several songs on Lungs are about violence and death. When questioned about this by the NME, lead singer Florence Welch responded: "Well, what other subject is there? I remember realising that my parents were going to die and weeping. Weeping as if my father had actually died."
The lead single from Lungs, "Kiss with a Fist", was released before the final recording of the album, on 9 June 2008, peaking at number fifty-one on the UK Singles Chart. The song was used in the American comedy horror film Jennifer's Body and in the British comedy film St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, both from 2009. "Dog Days Are Over", the second single, was released on 1 December 2008 and reached number twenty-three on the UK Singles Chart on 10 January 2010. The song was used in the eighth episode of the third series of the BAFTA-winning teen drama Skins, originally aired on 12 March 2009, as well as in the second episode of the American comedy-drama television series The Unusuals, titled "Boorland Day" and broadcast 15 April 2009. It was also featured in the theatrical trailer for the 2010 film Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts. The Yeasayer remix of "Dog Days Are Over", which is included on Between Two Lungs, was released on 12 October 2010 via iTunes.
As a precursor to the album's July 2009 release, "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" was released as the album's third single on 22 June 2009. It received a considerably greater amount of airplay in comparison to the two earlier singles, and subsequently debuted at number twelve on the UK Singles Chart. "Drumming Song" was released as the album's fourth single on 7 September 2009, reaching number fifty-four in the UK.
"You've Got the Love" was the fifth single to be released from the album and reached a new peak of number five on the UK Singles Chart on 10 January 2010. The song also spawned a spin-off single called "You Got the Dirtee Love", a mash-up of Welch and English rapper Dizzee Rascal's "Dirtee Cash", which they performed together at the 2010 BRIT Awards. The single was released on 17 February 2010, one day after the BRITs performance.
On 5 January 2010, "Hurricane Drunk" was originally announced as the next new single from the album. A video for the single was filmed in Paris on 8 January 2010 and premiered on 29 January after the Celebrity Big Brother 2010 final on Channel 4. However, on 3 March 2010 a re-release of "Dog Days Are Over" was announced on the band's website. The single was released digitally on 11 April and on 7" vinyl the following day, backed by a brand-new video.
"Cosmic Love" was released on 5 July 2010 as the album's sixth and final single. The song was featured in the 21 January 2010 episode of The Vampire Diaries, titled "Bloodlines", and subsequently in the series' season 2 trailer. The band also made a guest appearance in the 7 February 2011 episode of Gossip Girl, titled "Panic Roommate", where they performed an acoustic rendition of the song.
An exclusive remix of "I'm Not Calling You a Liar" is featured in the 2011 video game Dragon Age II as "I'm Not Calling You a Liar (Dragon Age II: Varric's Theme)". This version is produced by the game's composer Inon Zur but does not appear on the game's soundtrack and may only be heard during the credits of the game.
Lungs received mostly positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 79, based on 22 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". James Christopher Monger of Allmusic praised it as "one of the most musically mature and emotionally mesmerizing albums of 2009" and stated, "With an arsenal of weaponry that included the daring musicality of Kate Bush, the fearless delivery of Sinéad O'Connor, and the dark, unhinged vulnerability of Fiona Apple, the London native crafted a debut that not only lived up to the machine-gun spray of buzz that heralded her arrival, but easily surpassed it." Ryan Dombal wrote for Pitchfork Media that Welch "bursts mouth wide wide over garage rock, epic soul, pint-tipping Britbeat, and—best of all—a mystic brand of pop that's part Annie Lennox, Grace Slick, and Joanna Newsom."Entertainment Weekly's Joseph Brannigan Lynch opined that Welch's "immaculately constructed indie pop recalls Regina Spektor, but without the studied artiness: Welch is more concerned with raw emotional release."
Spin's Melissa Maerz stated, "From the way she sings, in big gulps and Teen Wolf growls, to the mystical art-rock ballads she bedazzles with sleigh bells, harps, and choirs, there's enough drama here for a Broadway musical. But her delivery is so raw that every mess feels genuine." Sophie Bruce of BBC Music was emphatic, saying, "With vocals building from breathy almost-nothings to soaring, arching crescendos and the accompanying harps, strings, hopes and dreams, this album takes you somewhere you'll never want to come back from." Emily Tartanella of PopMatters called Lungs "a perfect debut", complimenting the album's "vast jumble of influences, from Kate Bush and Tori Amos to UK electronica [...], with Florence's voice taking on most of the work", while describing Welch's voice as "a mix of jazz and folk and blue-eyed soul like nothing in a long time. Or rather, like everything."Rolling Stone's Jon Dolan expressed that "[t]he best bits feel like being chased through a moonless night by a sexy moor witch."Slant Magazine critic Nick Day referred to the band's music as "particularly sensitive to studio gloss" and praised Welch's singing as "a fine balance between elegance and frenzy." In a review for The Guardian, Dave Simpson viewed that Welch "has created a sonic labyrinth of xylophones, percussion, Gregorian chants and werewolves. It can sound affected, occasionally crass, but there's enough adventure to make this worth backing for the Mercury."
Jamie Fullerton of the NME commended the work of producers James Ford and Paul Epworth, writing that, on tracks like "Dog Days Are Over" and "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)", they "create epic cauldron-swirls of Terminator-theme drums, Massive Attack atmospherics and twinkle-eye harp matched by Florence's grappling of skyward choruses", but found that "with the likes of 'I'm Not Calling You A Liar' and 'Howl' boasting similarly windy production yet no identifiable tunes the results sound aimless—if harmless."Drowned in Sound's Ed Miller commented on the comparisons drawn between Welch and Kate Bush, arguing, "Like Bush, but minus the mark of genius, listening to Florence and the Machine can sometimes feel like being led by the hand through a story world by a girl who has forgotten to grow up." However, Miller critiqued that "[t]he only major problems are the inclusion of a cover of 'You've Got The Love', which is an example of a bonus track ruining the flow of an album, and 'Hurricane Drunk', a vehicle for a very questionable chorus." Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club felt that "[a]t times, Lungs borders on exhausting, careening as it does from one over-the-top track to the next. [...] But with a voice as strong and emotive as hers, it's not surprising that Welch has little use for moments of quiet contemplation."
Florence and the Machine announced via their website on 24 September 2010 that Lungs would be re-released on 15 November in a two-disc package titled Between Two Lungs. The release features new sleeve art, liner notes penned by frontwoman Florence Welch, and an extra twelve-track CD including live versions, remixes, the singer's mash-up collaboration with Dizzee Rascal, "You Got the Dirtee Love", and "Heavy in Your Arms", which was featured on the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The live recordings were from the band's performance at the 2010 iTunes Festival, most of which were not previously available on the iTunes Festival: London 2010 EP.
On 27 February 2011, Lungs – The B-Sides was made exclusively available in the US to digital music retailers such as the iTunes Store and Amazon MP3. This coincided with the release of a deluxe version of Lungs in the US featuring these eleven tracks bundled with the original thirteen-track release.
Welch, Mackey, Stafford, James
"Heavy in Your Arms"
"You've Got the Dirtee Love" (Live at the BRIT Awards 2010 with Dizzee Rascal)