Ceremonials by Florence and the Machine

12 December 2019

Florence and the Machine- Ceremonials

Although ceremonies differ around the world, there are a few constants. The event is usually personally and culturally significant, a performance of some sort occurs, and there’s a direct tie to love, whether it is for another person, country, etc. Florence and the Machine’s second album fits all those criteria. Ceremonials is a focused, spiritual effort that will please fans of Lungs without being an adjustment. Rather than hitting you with mega-singles, this sophomore release dives into a world of intricate music that circles around magnificent vocals.

Musically, Ceremonials isn’t as varied as Lungs, but it makes up ground with impeccable flow and lush instrumentation. “What the Water Gave Me” starts with deeply reverberating gongs and some sly background guitar patterns. Rather than swinging for the skies, the chorus drops most of the music in favor of a choir of voices, only to climb for new heights in the next verse. “Breaking Down” would be an ideal song for release around the holidays, with its chiming Christmas bells and heartwarming strings. Gorgeous layers of piano and harp are positioned over a scraping, angry rhythm in “All This & Heaven Too”, perfectly translating Welch’s frustration over expressing her love. Lyrically, the message is just as powerful, with segments like “Words, poor language/doesn’t deserve such treatment/And all my stumbling phases never amounted/to anything worth this feeling.” Heavenly indeed.

Florence and the Machine’s second album is certainly a move in the right direction. Where Lungs felt like an exploration in sounds, Ceremonials is tightly focused in an airy style that fits with Welch’s voice. She sounds passionate, professional, spiritual, scientific, inspired, and excited. Sometimes, that’s all in one song. Most of all, no matter what’s changed or what’s being sung about, she’s got the love.

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