Track Review: King // Florence and the Machine


Ethereal. Empowering. Striking. All these words and more can be used to describe Florence and the Machine’s first single in over four years, ‘King’. An operatic cry against gender expectation, it’s everything that we’ve been missing from the band.

In a world that vehemently tells you that you must act a certain way, be a certain kind of woman, who else is there to lift you beyond these expectations besides yourself? 

Florence Welch anoints herself royalty and saviour, as neither “mother” nor “bride”, but a “king”; her life is deemed “grand self-mythology”, her ordained maternal image replaced by a “bloody sword” and a “golden crown of sorrow”. The simple instrumentation of the track lets the lyrics shine, with Welch musing on the meaning of femininity. 

She grapples with the idea that to become a mother, she must lose all “ambition”, a battle many women may find relatable. Questioning her own “worth” as a musician, and whether that is greater than her worth as a mother, she mourns her “empty halls” (a heavy but effective metaphor) but celebrates the legacy of music that rings throughout them. 

Feelings of frustration, confusion and anger run rife throughout the track, culminating in a cathartic scream that slices across the song in an orchestral crescendo. It gives me goosebumps to even think about it. As per usual, the lyricism of Florence and the Machine astonishes and astounds, ‘King’ is truly a masterclass in songwriting.

The music video feels almost Shakespearean; Welch as the ghostly Lady Macbeth floating through the barren halls of an abandoned concrete structure, her incapacitated male companion following in her wake. Adorned in a plum cape and surrounded by dancers draped in fabric, it’s a fascinatingly cinematic watch, evoking imagery similar to 2020s The Green Knight. The dramatic video was directed by Autumn De Wilde, best known for directing Emma in 2020.

Florence and the Machine’s newest track launches the fifth era for the band. With each new album their sound develops further and further, and ‘King’ feels no different, clearly showing aesthetic similarities to their earlier album Lungs (2009), whilst also building on the intimate sound of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (2015) and High as Hope (2018). Here’s hoping that the haunting, anthemic sound of ‘King’ remains a theme of future releases. 

Words by Alice Fortt

Support The Indiependent

We’re trying to raise £200 a month to help cover our operational costs. This includes our ‘Writer of the Month’ awards, where we recognise the amazing work produced by our contributor team. If you’ve enjoyed reading our site, we’d really appreciate it if you could donate to The Indiependent. Whether you can give £1 or £10, you’d be making a huge difference to our small team.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here