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Second studio album by the British musician. The album debuted at #1 in the UK Albums Chart and features the singles 'What the Water Gave Me', 'Shake It Out' and 'No Light, No Light'.
Florence Welch’s debut album of 2009, Lungs, lived up to the hype of a music press that had been utterly seduced by her harp plucks and tribal drum riffs, her otherworldly sensibility and her arresting vocals. She pushed us through fairy-tale dreamscapes and catapulted us through life’s dramas with anger and beauty, her voice as strident, sharp and strong as a deftly brandished scimitar. Visceral, raw and passionate, Lungs was aptly named.
And so too is the follow-up, fittingly released on Halloween. The arrangements here are even more richly layered and majestic; they surge with strings and arrive backed by choristers, while the narratives are darker and prioritise the spirit over the corporeal. Lead single What the Water Gave Me, issued as a standalone cut in August, is brooding and windswept, its harp twinkling eerily in the ether. As Welch mournfully sings of being laid down with "pockets full of stones" before the track swells to a choir-bolstered climax of Emily Brontë ’n’ Kate Bush proportions, images of her as John William Waterhouse’s doomed, red-headed Ophelia can’t help but swim before your eyes. It is magnificent – so it’s hardly surprising that, despite not having a physical release, it managed to chart.
But as a taster it is misleading, for little comes close to either its elegiac splendour or its subtlety. The disturbing, discordant Seven Devils, with its lyrics about being "dead before the day is done", is at least as sinister. It resembles Heavy In Your Arms (perhaps this is a Twilight – or, bearing in mind those familiar scales, should that be Twilight Zone? – soundtrack waiting to be commissioned), but is as intense as a blow to the head with a broomstick. Forthcoming single No Light, No Light – drum-chased, harp-gilded and hook-jawed – recalls the likes of Cosmic Love, but its epic proportions are too much; while the anthemic opener Only If for A Night, a mix of bombast and ballast, is too ponderous.
Ceremonials, which sees Lungs producer Paul Epworth return but ignore all restraint, offers the pomp, but somehow not quite the power, of Welch’s debut: this is all grandeur without any grace. The more weight and length (the average is five minutes) given to the songs, the less impact they have and the more wearied they leave you – it’s probably best not to listen to the 20-track deluxe edition in one sitting. Having established herself as Florence, the songstress of craft and great emotion, it’s a shame she’s now allowed her machine to take over. --Alix Buscovic
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Top Customer Reviews
1: "Only If For A Night": a brilliant opener, OIFAN is an eerie yet beautiful number and sets the tone of Ceremonials. 10/10
2: "Shake It Out": love this, but I wouldn't call it my favourite song on Ceremonials. Really euphoric and cheerful yet with dark lyrics. 9/10
3: What The Water Gave Me: this and Spectrum are probably my favourite songs on Ceremonials. I love the way it starts off soft, and slowly gets louder and louders until it explodes into the final goosebump - enducing chorus. Beautiful instrumentation, beautiful lyrics, beautiful song. 10/10
4: Never Let Me Go: a beautiful slower number in contrast to most of the album, Flo coos about being enveloped in the ocean and overall paints a beautiful picture with this number. 10/10
5: Breaking Down: a dark yet upbeat song, Flo's gorgeous vocals echo and fade in and out over a stellar drum beat. 10/10
6: Lover To Lover: can be forgotten in the might of other tracks, track 6 of Ceremonials is a brilliant song, but not the best that the album has to offer. 8/10
7: No Light, No Light: Flo is here with her trademark pounding drums on track 7. NL, NL can really be described in one word: AWESOME. Excellent single choice.Read more ›
when I was young (around the middle of the last century) we had only a few bands (and no Simon Cowell).
These bands made their own music and played their own instruments.
Some were very very good, and some were just awful - but they all had a go, and rose or fell on their own merits.
One such band was called Jefferson Airplane (the Jefferson after the US President, and the Airplane after Jefferson... (c) A A Milne).
Their singer was a young (in those days) lady called Grace Slick. She had an amazing voice which could soar and roar and whisper and knock down walls.
At one point the 'Airplane was playing a concert in a rain storm and Grace Slick stood at the front of the band, put her head back into the storm and let rip with the lyrics. Thunder and lightning... She has retired now. You may have heard "White Rabbit" - the psychedelic version of Alice in Wonderland (although I suspect the Alice story had something to do with psychedelics as well...) - Grace Slick had a kind of reckless abandon when singing, and her voice was magnificent. Try listening to some of the tracks on "Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun" or "Sunfighter", they may remind you of someone...
During these dying days of the European Experiment, I listen to a variety of music (mostly Jazz I have to admit - perhaps it's an age thing?), but I am blessed with a number (4) of daughters who visit and bring their latest favourite CDs... and sometimes the music is Good (Pearl Jam, Bluehorses, Smashing Pumpkins, Evanescence, kd lang, the National, Tori Amos, Hole) and sometimes it isn't (<names removed to protect the guilty>).
And then sometimes I listen to Jools.Read more ›
On first listening I think I was just overwhelmed by the "wall of sound" production running through the entire album and to be honest I was slightly worried that nothing really stood out to me. That was a week ago. After a week and numerous listens to both individual tracks and to the album as a whole almost every song has grown on me so much that I can't get a couple of them out of my head.
Make sure if you can, to listen to the album on a good set of speakers or very good quality headphones. The initial wall of sound is actually much more subtle than you first think, with multiple levels of overlaid tracks and vocals that you can pick out and follow individually. There is also subtle use made of almost sub-sonic bass frequencies that you almost feel rather than hear. The album also sounds terrific when played loud!
As others have said, this is not Lungs II. Although every track is a big production with soaring gospel style backing in several songs, the lyrics actually have quite dark undertones. The strange noises at the beginning or end of some tracks or in some cases running through the track also adds to the slight feeling of unease/hidden menace that seems to run through whole album. If I had to pick a stand-out track, I would personally pick Heartlines - from the haunting sounds at the beginning to the crash of the bass drums and the multiply overlaid vocals in the chorus to the single note finish, this song is totally stuck on repeat in my head.
Overall: - 5 stars - This album needed a bit of time to grow on me, but grow on my it has in a very big way. Give it a chance and I am sure it will grow on you too!