Album Review: Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

Florence + The machine is an indie rock band that formed in London in 2007, with the lead singer and her backup musician members: Florence Welch (lead vocals), Isabella Summers (pianist and mixer), Tom Monger (harp), Rob Ackroyd (guitar and strings), Mark Saunders (Bass and drums), and “Rusty” (Keyboard) and Christopher Lloyd-Hayden (drums). The band won The Brit Award in 2010, The Critic’s Choice Award in 2009, The NME Award in 2013 for Best Solo Artist, and two NME Awards for Best Track, and Best Solo Artist. They were nominated for 31 other awards. Florence + The machine released their second studio album, Ceremonials, in 2011. It received favorable reviews from music critics and peaked at number six on the US Billboard 200 chart.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine.
Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine.

The first song in the album, Only If For a Night, has many different meanings when it comes to lyrics. In one interview, Florence explained that this song was inspired of a vivid dream about her grandmother. This haunting piece of imagery of Florence seeing her grandmother as if she was in the flesh is bitterly joyful, setting the tone for the rest of the album. For example, when Welch sings, “My doe, My dear darling, Tell me what the sighing is all about”, some speculate that this part was sung from the point of her grandmother, asking Welch why she’s so sad. It’s almost as if she is trying to take some of the burden from Welch so that Welch can “concentrate” on what’s important. Another song on the album, Shake It Out, has lyrics which are slightly dark, as they are with some of the other songs on the album. Regardless, the song is easy to dance along to. Welch actually wrote this song while hungover. She stated during an interview that a hangover brings you to a whole new world, allowing you to access new areas of your brain. For example, when she sings, “I can see no way, I can see no way”, it shows how the future is daunting, her path is dark. She is unable to see the light through all the demons that have come back to haunt her. What The Water Gave Me is one of many of the songs on the album that stick out from the pack. Feeling more like fiction than most of Flo’s lyrics, it is a drowning narrative spread across five-plus minutes of soaring, singalong pop-rock. The word “epic” is almost too weak.

The album cover.
The album cover.

This is one of my favorite albums. I love the genre of her music, and I thought she did a magnificent job on this album. My favorite song was Only If For A Night, because the lyric meanings and the sounds were fantastic. Florence Welch is an impressively beautiful singer, and this album could not have been any better.

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