‘Ceremonials’ cements Florence + the Machine’s unique, confident sound
Opening track Only If For The Night sets the dark, enchanting tone for the album, with Florence Welch making her first of a few allusions to death – “and my body was loosened, I was set alight.” Don’t be put off by the occasional suicidal lyric though, if you liked debut album Lungs you’ll be used to her self-destructive vocals. This draws upon one of Florence’s strengths, her ability to successfully contrast ominous lyrics with uplifting lyrics. She does the latter on this album’s second single release Shake It Out, in which she notes “and it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off.”
As expected, the album stays very rooted to Florence + the Machine’s unique staple sound but shows absolute signs of development. It takes on a slightly darker sound than Lungs. In an interview with NME, Florence described the sound of Ceremonials as “kind of ravy in parts and then sometimes it sounds like church music. Some bits are electronic and then that’s all mixed up with like really organic drums.” “Loads of different sounds, I wouldn’t say it had one particular sound but everything seems to stick together quite well.”
The ‘ravy/church’ sound works particularly well on the album’s lead single, What The Water Gave Me, where she once again depicts here own water-associated death. Florence croons in her distinct vocal style ‘lay me down, let the only sound be the overflow,’ building up to the track’s up-tempo sound. Compared to Lungs, Ceremonials appears to display a more fluid sound even though it exhibits a variety of sounds. Often having the basis of crashing drums yet expertly and inextricably intertwined with exquisitely alluring melodies. This is demonstrated on track No Light, No Light and Seven Devils is another of the album’s strongest tracks.
Florence + the Machine’s deluxe editions are always exactly that, not just one or two tracks strapped on to the end but whole bonus discs of tracks. It’s great to hear a studio-recorded version of Strangeness and Charm made it onto the deluxe edition of Ceremonials after appearing as a live performance on the Lungs deluxe edition.
One of the best things about Ceremonials is its distinct mix of alternative sounds and what makes it even better is that you never know what sound is coming next. It just hits you and it works.
Florence + the Machine isn’t to everyone’s music taste and I was once one of these people but all it took was track Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and I was enthralled with Lungs. Ceremonials serves to cement Florence + the Machine as a unique, individual and confident sound that shows no signs of weakness.