Review Summary: Florence and the Machine's sound is too large for the acoustic outfit.
Florence and the Machine seems like the perfect outfit for an MTV Unplugged performance. Consisting of many members manning a variety of instruments both in the studio, and even more additional members during normal live performances, the backup band for Florence + the Machine (rather the “Machine” end of the act’s name) most certainly has the potential to become a unique acoustic orchestra for an unplugged performance.
The Machine makes this set quite interesting, utilizing it’s supply of helping hands to cover the many instrumental stations fitted for the raw acoustic reconstruction of the soaring and booming epics in Florence’s as of currently, short discography. Hell, they’ve even employed Josh Homme, the fire-haired demon of the desert himself to aid the fire-haired goddess of indie soul Florence, as a featured guest on the live cover of the decades old acoustic sit-down staple “Jackson”.
Though the fact that this is an acoustic album to begin with is where issues are run into here. The songs of Florence + the Machine are songs that are instrumentally layered in a complex fashion, and the range and volume these songs aim for is to soaring and rafter breaching points. These unplugged renditions of notable standouts and usual live favorites in the bands catalog end up making these songs, and especially Florence’s vocal performance, seem strained, and limited, it comes off as strongly retracted, and the impression of them holding back is very noticeable. This would be very different if the songs where deconstructed and then reinterpreted to suit a live performance, instead of just being acoustic renditions and play-through’s that end up severely turning the volume down, and especially in this case with songs that require a venue with stadium sized atmosphere to truly reach their intended volume.
Songs are not re-invented here as they need to be, to make the result of hearing this worth while. If fans have ever wondered just what these songs sound like unplugged, they’ll get what they want, but not much else. These are weaker versions that feel as though the band is going through the motions. There’s no feel of raw jam, or simple acoustic beauty, or anything different done with the songs to make this notable or interesting. This is a performance from the band that is less effective than usual, because the songs themselves clearly weren’t designed for this type of performance at all in the first place, leaving audiences left with nothing but the bare bones foundation of the songs and music that is played to a very passive standard because none of what the songs were originally meant to convey can be achieved through this method.