Monday, October 31, 2011

Music Review: Ceremonials

Florence + the Machines sophomore album Ceremonials delivers in many ways, perhaps even more than the first album.  FATM takes us back in time to the 80s and 90s with power vocals and beat-heavy tunes, combined with an ancient, primal ethereal nature.  It's perhaps even darker than the first album as well.

The album opens with "Only If for a Night", in which the narrator performs ceremonials for the dead in the graveyard, and in response the ghost of her loved one speaks to her.  So Florence.  A great choice for the first songs, as it really hooks the listener in and sets the mood for the rest of the album.  We go through songs that never keep the same key, beat, or dynamics throughout.  From the feel-good "Shake It Out" to the angry "No Light, No Light" Ceremonials does have varying matter, though dark it may be.  The suicide-reflecting, burden-laden "What the Water Gave Me" is surely a highlight with its references to Atlas carrying the world and Virginia Woolf drowning herself with stones in her pockets.  It's actually a beautiful depiction, much like that of how Ophelia died in Hamlet.

What's interesting is that the songs have some sort of connection to the one that ensues.  Whether it's intended or not, it certainly adds a unique and memorable element to the album as a whole.  One thing is for certain: you will have these songs in your head for a long time after one listen.  A tip: spring for the deluxe version; the acoustic versions of her songs are worth every bit of extra money you'd be paying.  Buy it now if you know what's good for you.

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