I critiqued this production based on the version on her album 'Ceremonials', which gives
the following credits:
Produced by Paul Epworth.
Engineered by Mark
Mixed by Mark 'Spike' Stent.
Mastered by Ted Jensen.
thing that hits me every time I listen to this track is that the lead vocal line from 2:52
through to the final chorus always seems to sound like's it's been stuck on as an
afterthought. The main reason for this, I think, is that the amount of low midrange in the
tone somehow suddenly increases there. I'd probably have multed that bit out to give it
some extra low cut there -- or maybe even automated an EQ, because the falsetto bits seem
to suffer much more than the rest in this regard.
Also, speaking of the vocals,
it's also probably worth mentioning how vocal distortion appears to have been used pretty
extensively here too. This is often justifiable on grounds of giving the vocal a fuller
tone to compete with such a rich-sounding backing texture, but I have a suspicion that it
might also have been a way of managing the intermittent narrowband frequency peaks that
often, in my experience, tend to accompany this kind of strained vocal delivery. Such
peaks result in a sporadic 'piercing' quality that can make it quite difficult to achieve
a stable subjective tone and balance for the vocal in the mix -- the slim frequency peak
stabs you uncomfortably in the ear well before rest of the vocal's frequency spectrum
feels loud enough. Distortion can work as something of a remedy to this by increasing the
vocal sound's overall harmonic density so that the narrow-band peaks don't stand out quite
as much. In this respect it's quite interesting to compare this Spike Stent mix with Craig
Silvey's of 'What The Water Gave Me' from the same album. Although I like Silvey's extra
bit rock-and-roll 'edge' in general, for my money Stent handles the resonances of
Florence's vocal better, such that she seems closer and more solid to my ears most of the
time, but without ever becoming as abrasive as during 'What The Water Gave Me' (for
example at 2:10-2:22).
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