In Ceremonials, Florence + Machine return with an album that possesses a strong, epic sound that brings out some new wrinkles in the band’s music. With their debut LP, Lungs, Florence Welch and her backing band crafted a unique blend of harps, percussion, and sweet-sounding vocals from the Brit songstress. While Lungs seemed to be a bit floatier, Ceremonials leans towards being a tighter record with a bigger drum sound and a more present reliance on a synth and electronic background.
The first glimpse we had at this record, “What the Water Gave Me,” is a slow-building crescendo that Welch debuted on her most recent U.S. tour. The third track of Ceremonials, the song takes a while to get to where she is going, but explodes at the 3:30 mark. Florence Welch also seems to have showed off her vocal range more than she did on Lungs. A warning: “Never Let Me Go” and “Lover to Lover” are not to be listened to with the stereo knob turned towards ten.
The Machine also kept their signature sound, as harpist Tom Monger is present throughout the album. Though not always in the foreground as he was previously, Monger pops up as the signature part of “Spectrum.”
I had been a bit skeptical that Florence + Machine could emerge from Lungs, but I like the intelligent and bold lyrics. It’s something that’s not normally found in pop music today. This record is an indication to me that Florence + Machine could belong in that next level of the music pantheon. Overall, Ceremonials took a few listens before it began to fall in to place (as it is much more complex than Lungs), but proved to be worth the effort as there’s something truly singular here.
Ceremonials is available in a 12-track format or 16-song (including a demo of “What the Water Gave Me”) deluxe edition.
Other Good Stuff That Hits Today: The holiday season (box set time!) arrives with U2’s Achtung Baby Re-Issues and The Beach Boys long-awaited Smile Sessions.