Newest Review: ... piano melody. There is a watery theme that runs through the album. First single What the Water Gave Me was written about Virginia Wool... more
Superb second album
Ceremonials - Florence + the Machine
Member Name: AbsintheFairy
Ceremonials - Florence + the Machine
Advantages: Some fantastic tracks
Disadvantages: None for me
Florence Welch aka Florence + The Machine released her second album Ceremonials in autumn 2011, the follow-up to 2009's Lungs. As a convert to her music, I was excited about the album's release and bought it almost straight away. Ceremonials is both a natural successor to Lungs and a different-sounding album.
Where Lungs evoked grassy meadows and long midsummer days, Ceremonials is altogether colder, with a haunting atmosphere, pure sounding vocals and darker lyrics. Album opener Only If For a Night sounds almost Christmassy, with bells and an echoing sound as if it was recorded in a cold empty church. No Light, No Light is a dramatic, catchy and sweeping anthem, while Seven Devils is a haunting track with low, sinister vocals from Florence ("I'll be dead before the day is done") and a chilling piano melody.
There is a watery theme that runs through the album. First single What the Water Gave Me was written about Virginia Woolf's suicide; Florence sings about filling her "pockets full of stones" and sinking into the water. Beautiful ballad Never Let Me Go, my favourite track, is sung softly with resignation; again, Florence sings about being underwater, being held by the "arms of the ocean". It strikes me as being about suicide, or possibly baptism; even both. There is an underwater-sounding quality to many of the songs on the CD, though others have an echoing, churchy quality.
The theme of the church is another that can be recognised throughout the album. Though not explicitly religious, several songs make use of spiritual images or ideas, such as the aforementioned devils in Seven Devils and Shake It Out and the ballad All This and Heaven Too. In the closing track, Leave My Body, Florence sings of "moving up to higher ground": the whole CD seems to be about letting go and moving on, letting go of the physical and embracing the spiritual. Several songs sound like hymns or anthems: the repetitive chant of Heartlines is addictive, and Shake It Out, another album highlight, makes use of strong drums, harmonies and an organ to produce a sound that is almost funereal but with an uplifting, unearthly quality.
The album as a whole has a darker tone than Lungs. Only If For a Night has a wistful, nostalgic quality as Florence sings about the ghost of someone she loved. The references to suicide and escaping oneself in What the Water Gave Me and Never Let Me Go speak for themselves, and even the more uptempo tracks are somewhat dark. "There's no salvation for me now, no more space among the clouds" Florence sings on the eighties pop-sounding Lover to Lover, while on Breaking Down, which has an uptempo cheery beat, she talks about her "old familiar friends", which sound rather sinister. Spectrum, on the other hand, combines Florence's trademark sound with a dance beat, her strong vocals adding power to the song.
Ceremonials is more coherent and polished than Lungs. While there are several standout tracks on the former album, on the whole I do prefer this one. The otherworldly, spiritual quality of the music is fantastic and I find myself listening to it a great deal. Highly recommended from me.
1. Only If For a Night
2. Shake It Out
3. What the Water Gave Me
4. Never Let Me Go
5. Breaking Down
6. Lover to Lover
7. No Light, No Light
8. Seven Devils
11. All This and Heaven Too
12. Leave My Body
Summary: Second album from Florence + the Machine