Florence + The Machine “Ceremonials”
For fans of: Adele, Marina & The Diamonds, Lykke Li
We usually like to bring you relatively small bands and artists in this series, but every once in a while there is a popular album that we just can’t resist making sure you’ve heard. The new album from Florence + The Machine, which came out last week, is one of those few. The title Ceremonials is more than appropriate, as the album is full of belted-out songs that have tribal, gospel, and earthy influences all at once. The debut album from Florence Welch hit huge success with the infectious pop hit “Dog Days Are Over,” but the contents varied from powerful anthems to dreamy pop songs and brit-rock tunes. For her sophomore album, Welch has chosen a powerful direction and stuck to it with gusto.
Starting with the anthemic and uplifting “Shake it Out” single and continuing to the album’s last choruses, Welch gives each song on the album everything she’s got. She has the pipes to drive every song home — add in tribal drums, orchestral flourishes, and layered vocals and you’ve got a combination that makes each track sound as if Welch is singing out for the very last time. Functioning almost as a concept album, the songs deal with visceral subjects like love, death, betrayal, and ghosts, but have a fantastical vibe that makes us wonder what a film based on the album might look like. Welch certainly doesn’t operate on the mantra of “less is more,” as is evident on this album, but that’s part of why people love her. In a musical world of club jams and songs about keying some guy’s car, it’s nice to have a songstress who can provide a sort of escapism with her powerful vocals, emotional lyrics, and fantastical, ethereal arrangements.
“Shake it out,” “What the Water Gave Me,” and “No Light, No Light” are clear standouts here, but the album is its best when listened to as a whole, single work. Take a listen to the lead single below.