mon 22/07/2024

CD: Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials

CD: Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials

Relentless second album wears its ambition far too heavily

Florence Welch: pagan pop siren or contrived belter?

There are two fundamentally opposing schools of thought on Florence Welch and her mysterious machine. For the believers, her music belongs to the tradition of questing, modernist pop with a pagan trim of the kind Kate Bush made before she started writing 14-minute songs about having sex with snowmen.

To the naysayers, on the other hand, she’s both shallow and contrived, a paint-stripping belter desperate to lend her sub-Siouxsie Sioux shtick gravitas by grafting on a skin of borrowed poses and studied weirdness.

Neither view quite nails it. In reality, Welch makes occasionally stirring but doggedly conventional pop-soul-rock music which, in the very act of trying so damn hard to impose a kind of overwhelming Gothic magnificence on everything it touches, misses the target far more frequently than hits it.

Her second album wears its ambition heavily. The sheer scale of the façade is impressive, but dig underneath and the substance simply isn’t there. Lyrically there’s much de rigueur grappling with demons (“Seven Devils”), wolves and water-based symbolism, welded to a hefty dose of faux-tribal rhythm and chanting on “Only If For a Night”, “Shake it Out” and several others; it looks great on paper, but the outcome rarely sounds anything other than carefully constructed, rather than the result of giving free rein to primal abandon.

Welch has a hurricane-force voice that never lets up. She blasts through every song until listening to Ceremonials becomes an attritional experience, something to be survived rather than enjoyed. There’s no light and shade, just wave after wave of bombast. The sleek “Heartlines” offers a glimpse of what could have been, as does ”Breaking Down”, a refreshingly unaffected pop song which slips past without demanding that we all stand back and be mightily impressed. Both have a grace and lightness of touch that the remainder, for all its striving for grandeur, simply lacks.

Watch the video for "Shake it Out" by Florence + the Machine

The sheer scale of the façade is impressive, but dig underneath and the substance simply isn’t there


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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I'm sorry but this review is ridiculous. Just because you don't like someones style, doesn't mean you give the album a bad review. I dont like metal music but im not going to say its all bad, i just dont really understand it. When this reviewer sees the rest of the reviews of this album they are gonna be embarrassed.

Dear reviewer, Stay delusional.

This is absolutely ludicrous interview - how dare you! It's as if you wrote your own amazing music that's far better than Florence's. You haven't justified where the 2 stars came from either; you didn't put a good point anywhere!

This is an absolutely brilliant brilliant review.

This review absolutely hits the nail on the head.

Well done, Graeme! I have never understood the appeal of this vastly overrated singer, but then the charts are full of unabashed garbage, so what else is new? You particularly express my own views with your comment about her "grafting on a skin of borrowed poses and studied weirdness". Of course, most of the young public have no knowledge of music other than what they are spoon fed so they are in no position to judge originality. Apart from anything else, I just find her music profoundly annoying. Oh and don't let the "converted" browbeat you (by definition fans are blind and deaf). I thought you made your point very eloquently.

"Never Let Me Go" is an amazing song probably the best on the album.

This album is beautiful. I think she is an original and if this is what she can produce on a second album aged 25.... what will she be capable of in the years to come.? I'm looking forward to finding out. I hope she sticks around for us all to enjoy for many years.

Can I just say that that I believe those who borrow deeply are often those that have been influenced by said artist. I feel that Florence is a unique singer and she puts her whole being in her voice as she sings her lyrics that are mystical as well as primal in some sense. I see where you are going out, however from this gen x'er I find her much more refreshing in the sea of glossed out, superficial pop music. She is a earthy female who taps into her own divine talent of voice & writing.

Sorry for the grammatical errors in my post. I had a heck of a time attempting to preview this on my iPad as the comment was disappearing.

I have to agree with the above commenteers and disagree about this review. I've listen to this album like a hundrer of times and still haven't become tired of it. It's a great piece of music, but the review author looke upset or he just don't like Florence's music at all. Still I'm very happy to know what are other people's thoughts on the music styles I enjoy!

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