Ceremonials is the perfect title for the sophomore album from Florence + the Machine; after listening to the album I feel as though I have been baptized into the church of Florence Welch. Mind you, this is a church I would be delighted to attend and to keep returning to with my hands held high above my head, praising this red haired goddess.
Florence + the Machines‘ 2009 debut “Lungs” remains an album in constant rotation on my part. However, I couldn’t help but feel as though the Machine was throwing every sound imaginable into the mix. Florence‘ often delicate vocals were sometimes drowned out or lost to the grand orchestral landscape they were creating. Ceremonials manages to improve upon this by creating a lush, dreamy and distinct musical atmosphere while still finding time to seamlessly transition and focus on quieter vocal and massive harp moments. I love harp moments. Florence worked solely with producer Paul Epworth on the album, which creates the cohesive “big, tribal goth pop” sound she has become known for. The album feels slightly more earthy and soulful, with many tracks sound like they could fit perfectly at a spiritual gathering. “Lover to Lover” would make perfect sense at a rowdy, joyous Sunday morning church ceremony, with its hand-clapping, feet-stomping vibe. Second single “No Light, No Light” is a real standout on the album, with its’ flawless mix of organs, vocals, and drums. “Heartlines” is another song that immediately won me over with its’ chanting and drums. Did I mention I also love drums? “Seven Devils” is a creepier track, with a piano riff, drum beat, and slow build that effectively make me weary of the seven devils she speaks of.
Lyrically, the album has a very spiritual feel throughout, which is another expected Florence quality. There is much talk of casting out devils in tracks like “Shake It Out” and “Seven Devils”, visits from ghosts in “Only If For A Night”, and needing to find some sort of salvation in “Lover to Lover.” Not to mention the constant theme of water on the album. Anyone who has ever taken an English class knows that water symbolizes a re-birth or cleansing of some sort; Ceremonials could be that “cleanse” for Florence. The singer has said that “Lungs” was the product of a bad break-up; it is obvious to me that Florence is in a slightly more joyous place in life, or is at least attempting to cast out the negatives in an effort to get there.
Overall, Ceremonials is a spectacular album from Florence + the Machine. There is no one in the musical landscape currently who so seamlessly blends different sounds the way she does. It also doesn’t hurt that her voice is truly superb and inspiring. I’m considering myself baptized. 4/5
– Amanda ‘Bergz‘ Berghorn