Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ceremonials | Florence + The Machine

I've been wanting to review some older albums for a while, but I want to keep this blog up to date with newer releases, so I came up with this new concept: Rewind Reviews! Anytime I review an album that was released more than a year  or so before the review was written and posted, it will be filed as a Rewind Review! This will help fill in the times between two new album releases and will also appease my desire to review older albums! I hope you enjoy them!

Rating: ★★★★★

It's been four years since Florence + The Machine entered the music scene, and I am just now realizing how amazing the band truly is.

My best friend tried to introduce me to Florence + The Machine a while ago when "Dog Days Are Over" met international success. She had me watch the video for the song and I was thoroughly frightened, so I gave up trying to even listen to the band. I didn't really focus on the music, but rather was too distracted by the odd video.  

However, not too long after I was frightened off by the video for "Dog Days Are Over," I tried giving Florence + The Machine another try, this time listening to the same song with the video accompaniment. I liked the song, but not enough to go out and listen to the rest of the album. After that, I decided to stay neutral on the band, and didn't really bother searching into them any more.

Fast forwarding to last year, I was watching a YouTube video that featured "Cosmic Love," and I was completely astounded that the song was actually by Florence + The Machine. So, after becoming infatuated with "Cosmic Love," I decided to give the band a little attention and listen to their other material. Needless to say, after a few listens to other songs from both of Florence + The Machine's albums, Lungs and Ceremonials were added to my wish list of music.

I like Lungs and if I were to review it, it would probably get a four star review, but Ceremonials is a much better album. The band really grew between the two albums, and this album outshines Lungs in many different categories. The most notable thing to mention is that Ceremonials is a very consistent album, whereas Lungs was all over the place. The songs on this album carry a lot of the same themes, song structures, and sounds, while Lungs had a lot of different vibes.

One of the most surprising things that I noticed about this album is the length of the tracks. I hate when songs get cut short, and I just want to keep playing them over and over again. I guess that Welch and her producers understand this predicament, because only one song on Ceremonials has a length less than four minutes and many of the songs actually exceed five minutes. The extended length of the tracks make them all sound complete, rather than getting cut off prematurely. 

The first track off of the album, "Only If For A Night," is also one of my favorites. Welch's vocals in the song are extraordinary; they're eerie and mystifying  The haunting vocals of "Only If For A Night" match the meaning of the song, as well. The song was written by Welch after a dream she had in which her grandmother, who committed suicide when Welch was a teenager, had come back to life. 

"Only If For A Night" isn't the only song featured Ceremonials to be written about death, either. The third song, "What The Water Gave Me," is written about drowning. Actually, if I wanted to get specific, Welch wrote the song about Virginia Woolf, a twentieth century writer who killed herself by filling her pockets with stones and walking into a river, thus drowning herself. (Welch usually writes about the most carefree topics, doesn't she?) "What The Water Gave Me" is another one of my favorites from this album because of this dark meaning and the song's eerie sound.

One of the most upbeat songs from the album is "Spectrum." The entirety of the song's first verse is extremely quiet, and I wasn't really sure what to expect, but then Welch jumps into the powerhouse chorus but screaming, "Say my name!" and the rest of the song picks up from there. I love the constant excitement of the chorus repetitions, whether it be the beating of the drums, sound of harps, or Welch's amazing vocals. The song was lifted from Ceremonials as a single, and was later remixed by Calvin Harris. The amateur remix is completely inferior to the original, and I'm not sure why the general public favored it to the original.

"Only If For A Night," "What The Water Gave Me," and "Spectrum" are good examples of how most of the songs on Ceremonials are based off of the same formula; a quiet and calm beginning verse, a slightly exciting chorus, another peaceful verse with a few more instrumental elements, a repetition of the chorus, a very timid bridge, and finally an explosion of emotion through the final repetitions of the chorus. The three aforementioned songs make the best of this formula, especially "Spectrum." With the other nine songs on the album, this blueprint may get a bit redundant for some people, but I feel that this gives the album unity and generally sounds good.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ceremonials, and although many people argue the contrary, the album is much better than the band's debut release. This album showed great growth from Welch and the rest of the band members, and I'm excited to see what the future holds for Florence + The Machine, because I'm sure that their next album will meet the expectations I have for them after listening to Ceremonials.

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