Review Of Ceremonials By Florence and The Machine

Florence and The Machine

Artist: Florence and The Machine
Title: Ceremonials
Record Label: Island/Universal
Rating: 8.5

It’s a wonderful notion that a quirky young woman from Camberwell in South East London, who still lives with her mum, has become a world conquering pop star. Florence Welch is the enigmatic redheaded whirlwind at the helm of her machine and after the overwhelming success of debut LP Lungs, the collective have produced their sophomore album Ceremonials. It was always going to be hard to follow up such a successful album, but what Flo and Co have offered up in the shape of Ceremonials is a superb continuation of this fairy tale.

Ceremonials picks up where Lungs left off. Where some sophomore albums provide a musical departure from the first release, this isn’t the case here. What this second LP provides is another gear change for the machine and that gear change is the jump to light speed. Each song sounds monumentally epic, that voice is ever present and the production by Paul Epworth is exquisite, this is blockbuster pop. Sometimes, blockbusters can be hollow and lack substance, but Ceremonials boasts enough clout to sink the titanic. All the elements from Lungs return for this sequel, the twinkling harp, the bombastic drums and all that’s in between.

With a title that invokes rituals and conveys a slight spiritual theme, it’s no wonder the album is adorned with references of ghosts, demons and the supernatural. Another reoccurring topic is water and the subject of drowning. This is highlighted in ‘What The Water Gave Me’, which draws influence from the suicide of Virginia Woolf, how she filled her pockets full of stones and submerged herself into the River Ouse. Florence has claimed she is obsessed with drowning, and how it symbolises being overwhelmed by something far bigger than you. This could be a metaphor for how Florence sees her raise to fame, which is a far more inventive and compelling way than documenting lonely nights on a tour bus and the cliché booze and drugs tales normally provided in these circumstances.

‘Shake it Out’ the first single from the record is another bold statement of intent, as Florence declares the only way to banish the devil from your back is to shake it from your body. This song recognises that even when times get rough, it’s better to be an optimist than a pessimist.

What’s refreshing about Ceremonials is that it’s a wonderful, bold pop album. An album that isn’t afraid to be both confident and fragile in the same listen. As most bands are happy to mumble into their mics and stare at their shoes, Florence and The Machine aren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves and that is something to celebrate.

Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams

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