Review - Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials
Florence Welch (‘Florence’ of the ‘+ the Machine’) had a lot to live up to with her sophomore album, ‘Ceremonials’. Her first record ‘Lungs’ went 4x platinum in her home country, won a BRIT award, and got her a nomination for the Grammy for Best New Artist (but she lost to something called Esperanza Spalding, whatever the fuck that is). You all probably know her best for her song “Dog Days Are Over”, which was a surprise hit in the US last year.
For this album, Welch wanted to pick up where she left off and grow. Half of ‘Lungs’ was soaring, while the other half was grounded in the kind of indie rock that we have all come to realize is simply beneath her (if you know the album well, think “Kiss With A Fist”). ‘Ceremonials’ takes songs like “Dog Days” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”, and “You’ve Got The Love” and stretches them as far as they can go.
For inspiration for this album, Welch says that she cut out newspaper clippings of stories where parents died saving their children from drowning. Most of us would see this as just downright weird and even disgusting, but Florence found the beauty in it. The entire body of ‘Ceremonials’ feels like finding the light in a world filled with darkness (hence her lyric “it’s always darkest before the dawn”). Parts of the album even go so far as to take the listener to an almost religious place, all the while never alienating anyone (see: “Leave My Body”).
Basically, the album is completely brilliant, but no one really expected any less. Everything about the album is massive – from the lyrics, to the message, to the gospel backing choirs that join her on so many of the album’s tracks. Not a moment is spared from a deluge of emotion – whatever it may be – and yet it somehow doesn’t feel like too much. ‘Ceremonials’ may take you over, but at no point do you ever feel overwhelmed.
Listen to: every every every song, especially “What The Water Gave Me”, “Spectrum”, “Leave My Body”, and, if nothing else, “Shake It Out”