Sunday, 6 November 2011

DIGITAL WORDS / Florence and the Machine "Ceremonials"

Read my review of "Ceremonials" HERE

Florence and the Machine make a grand re-entrance with the glitteringly grand Ceremonials.

Broken hearted women have made the three biggest pop albums of the 21st century; Back To Black, Lungs and 21. And so it falls to Florence Welch, now reconciled with the absent man who inspired her platinum selling debut, to demonstrate what one does after making your man and the entire world fall for you.

Lungs, of course, served Ms. Welch and her machine well; it saw her dominate two consecutive festival seasons and took her from self-sourced vintage stage clothes to being swathed in custom made Gucci creations for her increasingly high profile performances, including supporting U2 and, oddly, lined up next to Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Hudson at the Grammy’s in a salute to Aretha Franklin. However, as singles were continually re-released and her cover of You’ve Got The Love became inescapable, it felt as though we were risking becoming glutted by and with Florence and the Machine.

Now with the dust of the storm caused by Lungs settled, Florence’s second LP, Ceremonials, is set to create an even more potent tempest. Like Lungs, an album with a title perfect in its precision, an album all about the gusto within one woman’s capacity, Ceremonials is a title of equal accuracy. This is an album so defined in its musical vision that it plays out like a ritual in gothic chamber pop.

Ceremonials, in many ways, is a far more refined and cohesive version of Lungs. Whereas Lungs felt schizophrenic and disorderly without fully formed intention - perhaps because the artistic identity for Florence herself, as a glamazon, Romantic woodland nymph, had not been fully realised either - Ceremonials is an unquestionable whole. Familiar sounds remain and dominate, in the form of thumping and hounding tribal rhythms driving each track with gushes of strings and harps, but everything simply sounds bigger and better. It also feels as though Florence is now comfortable with the prowess of her own voice. The enormity of her belting vocals is undeniably impressive, but when she allows herself to relax she adds new shades to her melodramatic repertoire. The undulations of Never Let Me Go see Florence drift dreamily between ghostly verses and an explosive chorus. Whilst the vulnerable honesty of Breaking Down presents a far more gentle, but no less enchanting Florence.

Now that Florence and the Machine possess a sound so purified and singular it’s impossible to predict how it will evolve or what its next permutation will be, but it’s an exciting prospect.

Written for IDOL

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