Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

Genre: Indie rock, art rock, baroque pop, soul, experimental

Release Date: 2011-10-28

Length: 89.27 (including deluxe edition bonus disc)

Origin: London, England

After the critical acclaim of Florence Welch‘s first album – Lungs (2009), Florence and the Machine (stylized as ‘Florence + the Machine’) have released their latest album entitled CeremonialsLungs received much praise and exposure – BBC Introducing attributing a large role for the band’s rise to popularity and mainstream success.  With Lungs being one of the best-selling albums of 2009 and 2010, it will certainly be a tough act to follow, and rightly so because in my opinion, Ceremonials is inferior to its predecessor.  Where Lungs was criticized for lacking cohesion and being ‘all over the place’, I criticize their latest album for being uninspired and tedious.

Florence writes her best songs when she’s drunk or has a hangover, because that’s when the freedom, the feral music comes, creating itself wildly from the fragments gathered in her notebooks and in her head.

I’m at odds with the above statement (taken off of the official Florence website) because judging from the band’s latest work, I’m inclined to believe that Welch must have been sober as a judge as Ceremonials doesn’t bring anything new to the table, in fact, the random style of Lungs, which brought us such imaginative and catchy songs as ‘Drumming Song‘, ‘Cosmic Love‘ and ‘My Boy Builds Coffins‘ has been extinguished for the sake of a more ‘cohesive’ song line-up with the result that everything sounds ‘samey’ to the point where one is not sure where one song ends and the next begins…

Welch’s voice is beautiful and powerful, shown off nicely in songs like ‘Heartlines’, which wasn’t half bad and has a decent amount of energy to it, I just wish the album was a bit more lively and inventive.  I suspect that die-hard Florence fans will disagree with me and that’s fine, this review is after-all an opinion piece, I just wish I could understand why this album has had so much acclaim.  Even though critics are saying that Ceremonials is a vast improvement over their previous entry, I believe that Lungs was far better and because of its popularity, the resulting hype and anticipation of the second album has blinded people somewhat.  Oftentimes, it takes a while to get into an album and repeat listening may be required until the hooks of the songs start dancing around one’s head, unfortunately after listening to this album three or four times now, it just doesn’t seem to do anything for me with the exception of ‘Remain Nameless‘, a beautifully constructed song and ironically a bonus track.  On a positive note, there’s no denying that a lot of time and effort has gone into Ceremonials, with twelve songs making up the main album and an additional eight tracks on the bonus disc (from the deluxe version) putting the running time at almost one-and-a-half hours.

Conclusion

Overall, even after repeated playing, I found Ceremonials to be uninspired and for the most part disappointing.  I love Welch’s voice, it’s gothic and oftentimes quite haunting, I just feel that her vocal prowess has been wasted with this latest album.  I can only hope that her next album will be more like the first, allowing her to flex her vocal talents with something unique and funky as opposed to ‘cohesive’ and unitary.

Grade: C

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