[Review] Florence + The Machine’s “Ceremonials”

By Kai

Florence Welch has always looked wickedly intriguing to me. Her songs are otherworldly, encompassing unimaginable depth and substance. The one that piqued my interest the most was 2008’s “Dog Days Are Over,” but to be honest, I never took the time to check out her other stuff until now. Florence has once stated that she wants her music to sound like throwing yourself out of a tree, or off a tall building, or as if you’re being sucked down into the ocean and you can’t breathe. I don’t know whether I should be frightened or fascinated by that but it certainly makes you want to listen to what she has to offer. “Ceremonials” is the second release from Florence + the Machine and I can tell you right off that the music truly overwhelms you with emotions. The sound is completely different from the usual, and that makes it so interesting. While I’m not exactly a fan of the spooky kind, I can appreciate a good work of art if it appears to be so.

The album opens up with “Only If for Tonight,” a song that confuses me a little. I’ve interpreted it to have somewhat of a spiritual concept about finding the courage to stand strong with the will granted from a higher power. The track has an amazing orchestral arrangement perfectly matched with Welch’s vocals. The addition of a choir makes it more celestial and harmonious. It’s almost like the music was injected into the atmosphere and contaminated it with an addicting melody. This song made a positive impression on me and that’s why I continued to listen. To my surprise, the next track is even better. No wonder was chosen as the second single.

What struck me about “Shake it Out” is how empowering the words are. This is such a soulful and inspiring song. Its significance is emphasized in the line “it’s hard to dance when the devil’s on your back so shake him off.” It’s because of those truthful words why this song will remain in my head for a long time to come. The video portrayed the song’s concept in an interesting manner, playing it out through a masquerade themed party.  

I’m beginning to think that all these songs have a choir included to create a more theatrical sound. Its not that I’m complaining though, instead I’m enjoying this dramatic new sound.  “What The Water Gave Mehas this mythical essence about it. It’s like a poetic story being told about a love facing various issues. I love how they’ve blended electro, soul, indie pop, and rock together. The end results are just magnificent.

I love the melancholy piano melody that starts off “Never Let Me Go.” This song is much more subtle than the previous three, but it’s just as emotional and radiant. The music is so renaissance-esque. The song’s about finding peace and comfort, and hoping that you can remain in that place and in those arms for eternity. It’s such a moving number if you look at it from a spiritual perspective. Her singing pulls you in deeply. This woman gave me chills throughout the entire song.

Breaking Down” has hard hitting drums and sweet melodies, but I didn’t get into the song till it neared the end. I also like how eerie the backing vocal arrangements are, but for some reason my heart wasn’t gravitating towards this song like the others. Regardless, this is the first to go sour for me, and it doesn’t ruin my impression so far. I’m only hoping for better afterwards.

I literally felt like I was in church when “Lover to Lover” kicked off. It has a soulful gospel vibe going on, which enforces its significance. I love the powerful organ, electrifying singing, and of course that pulsating beat from the drums. This is the deciding track that will convince me if the album will keep the good ones coming, or if it’s going downhill from here on. Fortunately, I’m sincerely satisfied with “Lover to Lover,” and I have high hopes that nothing can spoil this moment.

And I was right. “No Light, No Light” is absolutely breathtaking and this is my utmost favorite track on the album. The key points in the song include the addition of a higher pitch at the end of every line to stress on the meaning, the invigorating drums, and Florence’s unwavering passion and high energy throughout. The song’s about coming to terms with your problems and trying to find a resolution.

Seven Devils” lived up very well to its title. The song sounds like the soundtrack to a horror film. The piano melody reminded me a little of “Halloween’s” movie theme, but with that aside, the track is alluring and mystical. I like the plunging drums and low vocal tones in some parts. The pace is slower but the song’s enjoyable. It’s about living in turmoil and all the difficulties you face, being somewhat unable to find peace.

I love the gyrating drums in “Heartlines”; you can definitely tell that the inspiration came from tribal sounds with the heart pounding drum beat and chanting. The song is fitting even for the clubs. It improves a depressive mood with its empowering lyrics and upbeat tempo. The song came together exceptionally well. It’s about staying strong and continuing to fight. I love the groovy vibe it has, makes me feel like dancing. I just love it.

Spectrum” calms the nerves with her soothing voice in the first part of the song. I like the retro influenced beat that blasts in when the track picks up the pace. I think it fits the eurodance trend going on now if she’s interested in using this for mainstream purposes, but I love it either way. Her vocal capability is emphasized in this one. You can feel her in your soul with every note. It’s so loud and vibrant; high on life. The song’s about being brave and embracing freedom.

All This And Heaven Too” frightened me a little with the opening effect, but all that fright faded away when the song started playing. I can’t stress enough on how deeply enchanting the lyrical content is in every song. It’s all like poetry; words encoded with an inner meaning that take much effort to decipher. While I felt like I was floating in the clouds while listening to the song, I could also tell that the album was coming to an end because it felt as if Florence is getting ready for something.

Leave My Body” in my opinion is the one song among the others that justifies the album’s title. It truly gives off a ceremonial feel with all the echoing and other dramatic theatrics going on in the background. The song’s about finding closure and being released from all the things keeping her imprisoned. It’s supposed to be like some sort of escape or relief, but it sounds so sorrowful in away. This is a bittersweet way to conclude the album but it was done in such a remarkable way. Florence’s vocals kept pulling on my heart from start to finish. I could listen to her sing again and again without getting tired.

After listening to the entire album I concluded that Florence Welch is a dramatic and passionate singer, and the music composition is just as melodic and lovely as her voice. “Ceremonials” is a wonderful production in sound and lyrical quality. Everything about the album made sense to me and I’m more inclined to listen to their next release after being pulled in by this one because I’m quite taken aback by this kind of music. “Ceremonials” gets a rating of 4.9/5


Track listing:

01. Only If For A Night
02. Shake It Out
03. What The Water Gave Me
04. Never Let Me Go
05. Breaking Down
06. Lover To Lover
07. No Light, No Light
08. Seven Devils
09. Heartlines
10. Spectrum
11. All This And Heaven Too
12. Leave My Body


(Purchase this album now on iTunes)

Images courtesy of florenceandthemachine

*Send your requests to Kai: embraceme10@yahoo.com with ‘Album Review’ in the subject line. 

What do you think of “Ceremonials?”

4 thoughts on “[Review] Florence + The Machine’s “Ceremonials”

  1. I had to come back and tell you that this album is really GREAT! I’m so glad I decided to check it out, the songs are all so gorgeous 🙂 I’m really a fan of this type of music.

  2. I’ve been sooooo curious about this album for a long time! I heard Shake It Out on Music Choice and really liked it, so especially after reading this review I am reeeeeeally excited to hear it 🙂

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