Florence + the Machine caught quite a few people by surprise. Whether it was during the vapid, worthless film lucky enough to have a song on the the soundtrack (Twilight), or when the sonic assault of the song "Dog Days Are Over" hit the airwaves, Florence + the Machine made a it clear that a rich, powerful voice and some less-than-usual instrumentation could combine for some very good music.
On their first album, Lungs, FTM (for brevity) were all over the musical map. With near-punk songs like "Kiss with a Fist" to soul throw-backs like "You've Got the Love" to goth-esque songs like "My Boy Builds Coffins", the album was best labeled as eclectic. This is less apparent on their follow-up, Ceremonials, where find a more matured Florence and a more robust Machine
Bringing in more traditional rock elements has not hurt this album in the slightest. Florence Welch's voice is still the main focus, but focus is a key word. Where Lungs was a few of Flo's favorite things, Ceremonials is a more honed experienced. The songs still vary from quiet and subtle to rocking and raucous, but seem to move in a similar vein.
Standouts are the nearly religious "What the Water Gave Me", a romp with power and overtones of self-redemption, "Never Let Me Go", a slower, softer tune seemingly about a love affair with the sea, and "Leave My Body" which has a strange gypsy/Celtic feel to it. The entire album is permeated with veiled religiousness and darker marks or a life of the experienced seeking redemption, from society or a lover or a god is left up to the listener to make a final decision.
Many critics worried the sophomore effort from FTM would be less charismatic or moving as they found Lungs to be. Fortunately, Ceremonials comes to us firing on all cylinders showing us a singer in her prime.
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