Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials

written by: November 2, 2011
Release Date: October 31st, 2011


There’s a certain flow through Ceremonials that is distinguished and precise. This isn’t to say every song sounds the same, though. It’s just that the producers who put together Florence + the Machine’s latest release did a stellar job of connecting each piece flawlessly and smoothing out every potential interruption to its groove.

For this band to achieve such wide mainstream success last year might have been a compromise for both the public and the band. The style of Florence + the Machine is not typically heard on the radio, but some songs were so well produced that they deserved the limelight they earned. But the band doesn’t traditionally don a top-40 label. Its indie-pop energy is still a bit too obscure to be recognized by the public at large.

It must’ve been difficult to choose a first single and also easy to see how producers made the wrong decision by picking “What the Water Gave Me,” which was slow and slumpy. “Shake It Out” would have been a better fit, with its chantlike beat that has a much more appealing hook to it.

After the quick shot of brilliance in its start (a flash of piano with the words “And I had a dream …”), we really don’t get into it until after the lovely chiming intensity of “Never Let Me Go.” Tracks such as “Breaking Down” and “Lover to Lover” will tame listeners and inspire with their faster rhythms while “No Light, No Light” will attract a more mediating mood that will help the listeners understand what the band was going for. These songs could get you to the place where you dance like a fool simply because you are free. This is to be embraced.

Later, “Heartlines” represents an emotional journey as its poetry connects brilliantly with the music. The poetic wisdom continues with “All This and Heaven,” clearly the leader of the script along Ceremonials. It breathes, “And I will give all this and Heaven, too/I will give it all, if only for a moment/That I could just understand/The meaning of love.”

So to judge Florence + the Machine’s latest, it’s best to consider it the band’s recent contribution to indie music. And with that, it’s really not bad. At first listen, it will either be overwhelming or underwhelming, but listeners will be stunned by its dedication to its message on the second or third time around. This is especially true because the energy along Ceremonials asks for listeners to become accustomed to it.

It’s an acquired taste that is only strengthened toward the end of the album.

Critics might not like Ceremonials because they’re expecting to hear another “Dog Days Are Over” or “You’ve Got the Love.” But true Florence fans will understand that the new record fits right along with the intermediate work of 2009’s Lungs. It has no sure pop hits on the horizon, but this effort stays true to everything the band has worked for since its beginning. While the effort here wasn’t fully formed, at least Florence + the Machine still has its dignity.

 Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials Tracklist:

  1. “Only if for Night”
  2. “Shake It Out”
  3. “What the Water Gave Me”
  4. “Never Let Me Go”
  5. “Breaking Down”
  6. “Lover to Lover”
  7. “No Light, No Light”
  8. “Seven Devils”
  9. “Heartline”
  10. “Spectrum”
  11. “All This and Heaven Too”
  12. “Leave My Body”