Describing Florence + The Machine isn’t an easy task. Wikipedia lists Florence’s sound as ‘baroque pop, indie ,rock, soul,experimental‘, and while it’s true that her music, at some point or another, includes these qualities, Florence’s biggest achievement is to have created her own unique sound. While listening to Lungs, Florence’s first album, we go through songs with heavy lute and harp, like Rabbit Heart, to the rocky Kiss With A Fist, the somber Between Two Lungs and the instrumental heartstring-puller extravaganza Cosmic Love. The songs in Lungs respond to a lyrical theme, but they are very different in their sound.
With Ceremonials, there is less melodic rupture between songs. Percussion and piano are the two instrumental strong points in most of the songs, to the point they drive them completely like in the spectacular Heartlines, they go with the painfully longing vocals in Never Let Me Go, they serve as base to Shake It Out or help to build the momentum in What The Water Gave Me. Florence’s vocals are fantastic in Breaking Down, where she doesn’t make much use of her extraordinary belting power, but models through the song with a gentleness that drives the lyrics to perfection through the string-based instrumental.
Most tracks in Ceremonials are really catchy, which is something that didn’t happen as much with Lungs. Melodies are easily recognizable which makes songs get stuck almost immediately. This is specially noticeable in Shake It Out, Heartlines and No Light, No Light or Bedroom Hymns. Lover To Lover is also quite catchy. Given Florence’s fascination with darkness, it’s no surprise to find songs like Seven Devils, a slow, somber song that sounds just like a funeral march. Remain Nameless also responds to this sound.
Above it all, the quality that characterizes Florence’s sound, specially in Ceremonials, is that it is so big. The production, the instrumental, the vocals, it all sounds big and majestic, as if it was destined to play full volume in a cathedral or across a valley, specially Heartlines, a song that could perfectly serve as the soundtrack to Disney’s The Lion King or Pocahontas.
Ceremonials is green, golden, grey and blue; synesthesia aside: magnificent and brilliant. A true piece of art that reaches the highest of highs and becomes the second best album of 2011, just because Adele is simply unbeatable.
Listen to: Shake It Out, Breaking Down, Heartlines, What The Water Gave me, No Light No Light, Bedroom Hymns, Lover To Lover
Listen to Heartlines below: