Aalthough Dance Fever was made by successive lockdowns, it’s not another pandemic disco record, exactly. Choreomania – a song that appears early on Florence Welch’s fifth album – is named after a medieval epidemic of involuntary movement, a “dance fever” then understood as a form of possession, and now more of a mass stress response. So while Welch channels Into the Groove-era Madonna on Free — “when I dance, I’m free” — the emphasis on these very mature, self-conscious songs is on exorcism, rather than practice.
Welch’s latest album, High as hope (2018), was candid in his handling of this artist’s internal turmoil, but Dance Fever makes you crawl around, a fly on the wall in her therapist’s office. Like Adele’s 30† Dance Fever has a lot to say about being a woman, about self-sabotage and compromise; it plucks the pain from its listening ear with its fingers, wrestling with a muse who is sometimes more albatross than ally.
With production started by super producer Jack Antonoff but finished by Dave Bayley, the album takes a step back from the massive productions of Welch’s most famous work, with nods to the Rolling Stones (Dream Girl Evil) and plenty of unexpected chiaroscuro, how better to put her luscious voice in the foreground.