Florence And The Machine – Ceremonials
It’s fair to say Florence Welch became a full-on superstar with her debut album Lungs. Now it’s second album time for her and her Machine, and time to live up to all those high expectations.
Second albums are notoriously difficult to get right, and have been a stalling point for many a bands career. Florence, though, has played it safe on Ceremonials, making an album that follows the successful formula of Lungs, but enlisting the help of celebrated producer Paul Epworth to add a bit of gloss to the production.
That familiar formula and slick production is evident straight from the off with a three-song sequence that is as strong and joyous an album opening as you’re ever likely to hear. ‘Only If For A Night’ starts off with an intro of ceremonial church bells (see what they did there!?) before the familiar mixture of tribal drums and dramatic melodies takes hold. ‘Shake It Out’ follows suit, adding a ridiculously catchy chorus to the mixture of tribal melodies and strong vocals before the majestic ‘What The Water Gave Me’ takes over. It’s an opening that leaves us in no doubt that Florence And The Machine still mean business, and are not daunted by the high expectations. In fact, they have embraced those expectations and used them to make the album everyone expects them to make.
From start to finish, Ceremonials is full of epic songs that make the best of the tribal drums, spiritual melodies and Earth-mother lyrics that define Florence’s sound. ‘Breaking Down’, ‘Lover To Lover’, ‘Seven Devils’, ‘Heartlines’, ‘Spectrum’, ‘All This And Heaven Too’ and ‘Leave My Body’ don’t offer anything new, but are all good enough to be massive singles – featuring huge choruses and dramatic, involving melodies. Best of all, though, is ‘No Light, No Light’, which starts with epic organs and an ethereal vocal before those tribal drums add the drama and provide the platform for Florence’s vocals to soar.
While it is an impressive second album, Ceremonials’ strict adherence to the tried and tested formula does get a bit boring after a while. Although the songs are great, they are all great for the same reasons – and with no real variation to keep things interesting the songs tend to blend into each other a little. One things for sure though, Florence And The Machine know what works and they know exactly how to do it. Now they’ve successfully negotiated the ‘tricky’ second album, perhaps the change of artistic direction may come for that ‘challenging’ third album.