New Music Review: Florence + the Machine; ‘Ceremonials’ (MUSIC VIDEO)
Even if you haven’t sampled Florence +the Machine’s fantastic debut album Lungs, you’re probably familiar with their hit “Dog Days Are Over.” Unfortunately the general public associates Florence Welch and the rest of the band with Julia Roberts and an elephant.
Ceremonials explodes with “Only for a Night.” Welch’s voice is powerful but seems to be covered in a haze, adding not quite an echo, but an added richness.
The next song in comparison is clear and full of power energy. “Shake It” has a simple, danceable chorus. More even than “Dog Days” it seems appropriate for a soul searching movie, with lyrics assuring “It’s always darkest before the dawn” and the infectious chorus insisting you “shake it up”
“What the Water Gave Us” is peaceful, slow with an eventual build in intensity coming at the center. The vocals stay steady throughout will the percussion and bells crescendoing. The addition of guitar towards to end is surprising but compliments the chimes that sound like failing rain that gradually close the song.
Using the wailing, almost mournful vocals that made “Dog Days” sound so different, “Never Let Me Go” is a slow dance song, bringing in piano and sweeping drum beats reminiscent of an 80s slow jam. The best moment of the song is when all the effects and drums fall away to let Welch’s vocals be showcased.
“Break Down” seems to completely break from the mood set by the first four tracks of the album. With a fast pulse just under the surface, and whispery background vocals, and Welch’s voice barely recognizable as a sultry, breathy incarnation of her normally booming voice, it sounds like a completely different group, but in an adventurous rather than off-putting way.
The penultimate track “Bedroom Hymns” has both clacking, strident background instrumentals with haunting, echoing vocals that match the instruments in insistence and wild abandon.
The album ends with a demo of “What the Water Gave Us.” The demo is harsher , but the strong percussion adds depth to it.
Overall Ceremonials should please fans of Lungs while not completely alienating curious listeners drawn in only by a love of “Dog Days.” The slow songs don’t drag, the quick tracks never try to be too catchy, too pop. Florence + the Machine’s strength greatest will always be Welch’s voice, and sixteen tracks composing Ceremonials gives her plenty of varied opportunities to showcase it.
Music Video: Florence + the Machine: “What the Water Gave Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am6rArVPip8&ob=av2e
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