For the longest time I irrationally avoided Florence + the Machine’s first album Lungs — I was weirded out by the cover art. Once I got over those reservations I discovered I loved her sound. So much so that I quickly went out and bought the collection of B-Sides she put out last year. Now Florence had a new album Ceremonial out, does it live up to the rest of the Florence canon?
In a word, yes. Ceremonial is loaded with all the gorgeous dense music that was the hallmark of Lungs. If anything this album is even more anthemic than Lungs. It’s like she took the experience of playing venues like this
fully to heart and set out to make an album to fill huge spaces. In that respect, mission accomplished. Songs like Shake it Out and No Light, No Light are going to play huge live. It’s clear that Florence and her brain trust looked at the previous album, decided on what worked best from that and focused in on that with this album. As a result we get lots of big vocals, booming, ethereal tribal drums, and loads of harps.
Now, this focus does come at a cost. Gone are some of the weirder cuts from Lungs. There’s no Girl With One Eye or Kiss With a Fist to be found here. I believe this was a criticism from either the AVClub or Pitchfork, and I do agree with it to an extent. However variety for variety’s sake is hardly worthwhile, and the songs on Ceremonial work so well that you only miss the weirder stuff if you deliberately look for it.
Once when describing the Silversun Pickups album Swoon I called it “Carnavas Mark 2 and not in a bad way”. Ceremonial is the same way, it’s more Florence. If you’re like me, that’s an outstanding thing