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on 1 November 2011
Imagine Lungs without a "Dog days are over", "Rabbit heart", or "You've got the love" and you've got Ceremonials... a noisy, largely undifferentiated collection of songs lacking any radio-worthy singles. Sure, Florence retains her standout voice but here the hooks and melodies aren't nearly compelling enough to justify the vocal bombast applied to each track. In the end I was left with the feeling everything from the vocals, drumming, and orchestration was way overdone... like using a musical sledgehammer to swat a fly's worth of songwriting. I really enjoyed the previously mentioned singles from Lungs and was hoping for at least a handful more, but Ceremonials was saldly missing anything worth hearing again.
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VINE VOICEon 15 November 2011
Dear Florence
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. 'Cos he has people like Roy Harper (another real musician from the 1960s), and now and again some new group that stirs one's interest.

So the other night there was a band fronted by a red-haired Pre-Raphaelite 'stunner' called Florence.
And during the second song (whose name escapes me) she put her head back and let rip... Tingles down the spine - there was the sound and glory of the Slick in full flight... Magnificent, inspiring, reckless abandon. Now that is a voice. A true, natural, unembellished, magnificent vocal machine... Just glorious.

And so here we are - Florence and the Machine. Ceremonials. I just had to rush out and get the CD. And I was not disappointed at all.
The spirit (and lungs) of Grace Slick - fronting a splendid band, playing their own tunes, and not bowing to the miserable Cowell effect. And with a harp - brilliant.

This is a magnificent album - worthy of the five stars - and I am so delighted that half a century on from the birth of rock music, there are wonderful, independent, brilliant musicians carrying on the glory...
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on 9 November 2011
I wish I'd have paid more attention to the other reviewers before purchasing this MP3 version. Amazon were selling it at 3.99 at the time however I have subsequently ordered it on CD as the sound quality is disappointing. It wasn't so obvious when listening on my iPhone through earphones, but when playing via the computer over speakers you can tell it's been over-compressed. It's especially noticeable on parts that should be big and bold.

The album itself though is great. I was expecting a slow-burner but this grabbed me straight away and I love it just as I did Lungs.

5 stars for Ceremonials, but 2 knocked off for sound quality.
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on 1 December 2011
This was also bought as part of Christmas presents for my daughter, I have not listened to it as it is a present, so cannot comment on it.
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on 1 November 2011
Lungs i purchased back in the summer of 2009, so blindingly beautiful it was! It showcased a raw talent and a sense of absolute macabre beauty....it is rather strong for a debut album to boast such a quality feel! And a year on she managed to receive praise on a global scale and recieved comparisons immediately (sometimes lazily) with Annie Lennox, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and David Bowie....to name a few! To this day it still boasts that magical feel and has those instant mainstream hits mixed in with the whole Lungs concept.

Two years on....CEREMONIALS has been unleashed unto the world, like and untamed beast this album will eat you whole! Florence Welch really has pushed herself with this album...and her teaming up with Paul Epworth on production and also in co-writing with Eg White to boast also! Ceremonials pushes from the Indie Horror/Hammer Horror feel of Lungs into an absolute warped Tim Burton fantasy. It is an all the more concise record, it has a concept...."the fear of imaginary things....demons, ghosts, memories and the supernatural".

With that then the timing for release was spot on, Halloween being the moment where Ceremonials would creep into the music industry and shake it up (or "shake it out" even!) this has definitely set the standard for Music! It is refreshing and empowering to listen to.

Within two days of owning the material, it proves how powerful the album is, very much people will draw comparisons with debut album Lungs....as it very much is a continuation in some ways, but Ceremonials i think boasts much more what Flo herself is capable of....the sounds are "big" in all matters, her vocals are crisper and richer, the whole style is like you are listening to a soundtrack to a film, the imagery it creates is just sublime!

The album also deals with a lot of the aforementioned themes and it brings them into a "reality perspective" the idea of a dying relationship, or clinging to something you adore, or following through your emotions....it is such a powerful thing. Florence also has a unique vocal that manages to really gel together Madonnas preaching/seductive tones, Etta James Soul/gospel emotives, Kate Bush with her defying banshee like vocals that defy the air we breathe, and even Xena Warrior Princess...with her tribal moods, and power....it is truly something else to hear. And Flo brings all this, these powerful elements of what a female in music CAN do, and what music can do to the listener....it is powerful.

Some reviews may be critical at first of the album itself...as it is a concise album, never a bad thing....it just means you have to bring an open mind....this album is a church, a place of spiritual embrace! You let it all channel out in Florence & The Machines gospel of the macabre and the beautfiul!

As for the songs themselves -

1. "Only If for a Night" - A haunting opener to the album, it tells of her childhood memories with eerie moods it places the listener into the scene....a very powerful way to introduce the recording in terms of the scope, production and vocal....This enters a whole new area of her personal Twilight Zone. 10/10

2. "Shake It Out" - Demons and regret are dealt with here, the instant lead single for Ceremonials is an absolute cracker! It channels some defying spirit and ambitious tone....very euphoric and beautiful. 10/10

3. "What the Water Gave Me" - Compared to previous releases, this song was unleashed as a promo...it takes more listens than Shake It Out for example, but it very much SOUNDS so dreamlike and fantasy like and eerie, very much like a watery version of Madonnas Frozen, it is as haunting and as gorgeously emotive! 10/10

4. "Never Let Me Go" - A very emotive and vulnerable recording here, it sounds like a crashing wave in sound....like mermaids chanting in a bleak ocean! A very beautiful and bitersweet song. 10/10

5. "Breaking Down" - The pace changes itself again here, it sounds like a macabre carnival in beats, very twisted....Florence does a very Kate Bush subtle vocal here....very quaint and echoey and very undenyingly beautiful and progressive! the chanting gives you goosebumps. 10/10

6. "Lover to Lover" - Very rhythmic and pacey! She embraces that Etta James SOul here i spoke of earlier...it is very dramatic and pacey! and channels a very gospel feel....very anthemic. 10/10

7. "No Light, No Light" - An instant smash of a song! Set to be the next release of the album it should take more people by storm....again it is haunting with dramatic drums, harps, and a seductive vocal that channels a very Like A Prayer album mood....the topic of a broken relationship and clinging on to something you are passionate about is empowering in itself! It is rhythmetic and pacey and set to be another absolute smash for Florence! 10/10

8. "Seven Devils" - Possibly the most absurd to listen to on the album, it reminds of Kate Bush Hounds Of Love "The Ninth Wave" mood, a kind of bitterly beautiful production, the whistles remind also of Between Two Lungs before on the debut album....but it is such an eerie song....it channels an absolute force here. 10/10

9. "Heartlines" - This is the song where the aforementioned "Xena mood" is presented, with fantastically mesmerizing tribal chanting and powerhouse vocals on display....and a very preachy vocal...it is the music equivalent of a beautiful exorcism for the soul!a MUST release definitely. 10/10

10. "Spectrum" - Another absolute precious song, it is very unique and progressive! It reminds a bit of Bjorks Homogenic era....a dystopia of purist emotion and Madonnas Ray Of Light pacing....Florence chants "saaay my name" in an absolutely derivatively chilling way. The beats consume you and this is such an instant smash of a song! It speaks of the colours of the spectrum another very euphoric anthem of a song! Spectacular breakdowns in the beats too. 10/10

11. "All This and Heaven Too" - A very endearing song, very beautifully crafted and echoey! Steady drum beats enhances the power of this song and steady piano riffs. It is a very commanding love song. 10/10

12. "Leave My Body" - And so ends the exorcism, a hauntingly paced conclusion to the album that brings Ceremonials to a full circle, ending with similar pacing to introduction song Only If For A Night, the echoes and chants in the background add to the power! Literally you lose yourself in its display. 10/10

Overall, Ceremonials sets up a very macabre Disco....We enter the iconic world of Florence Welch, her idea of a very fantasy, macabre and monochrome England...her idea of spiritual identity, preachings and teachings it is a very empowering album and will be recognised as Florence & the Machines AND Paul Epworths finest moment as a pairing! absolute visionaries and colelctively have created this Tim Burton Disco for the creatures of the night to lose themselves into! and creatures of the day too.

An absolute testament and monument in British music and will be remembered as a very iconic piece of Ms, Welch, the Machine and Epworths legacy!

Bring Ceremonials home....10/10
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on 4 December 2011
I think the state of the quality of British music is probably best exemplified by the fact that, with this album, Flo (or her machine) is trying to compare herself to the greatest British artist of the last 30 years (Kate Bush). Whilst this album shows a depth and endurance that surpasses the last Florence album (and for which I am grateful,) its hundreds of miles behind the weakest Kate Bush material there is. The comparisons are frankly insulting to Kate Bush, and Flo (or her machine) would be best advised to steer clear of them or there won't be a third album, as by comparison it just doesn't have the same quality. I have forgiven Florence for murdering an excellent dance classic ("You Got the Love") and I am genuinely pleased that some good music exists that hasn't been produced by "Power Rangers Single" superknob Cowell, and it is good, BUT its not a quarter of the power of story telling talent, emotion or eccentricity of Kate Bush. Suggestions of this in "Q" Magazine have also revealed a lack of depth in that magazine and for which the end is probably nigh. If Flo (or her machine) want to avoid the same fate (think Bono, now) then leave off the KB comparisons and try to remain original.

If you genuinely liked the last album then you will like this, possibly even more. If you think Florence and the Machine is a contender for the KB crown then you would be best advised to try some real art, because it just ISN'T the case and this just DOESN'T make that mark.
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on 31 October 2011
When your debut album sells over 4 million records in a music climate where people don't buy records anymore and spawns six singles(one of which was released twice), in fact just search Florence and The Machine "Lungs" in Amazon and you will find multi released different versions of the debut album. Then you start getting comparisons with people like Kate Bush, Tori Amos and PJ Harvey then you know the pressure for your second record is going to be massive so it's a good thing Florence and The Machine deliver big time on album number two and along the way add more strings, guitars and heavier drums and even some more epic songs.

Anybody who heard "What The Water Gave Me" been performed back in May 2010 would back up that the second album would be great, at close to six minutes the song takes the listener on an epic journey as it begins hauntingly slowly before building into a big climax that features guitar, harp and drums all in perfect harmony. The first official single "Shake It Out" with it's pounding drums and gentle organ and features a great repetitive chorus that sounds louder than any Sunday Choir! On "No Light, No Light" it starts out real soft before those familiar pounding drums come pounding again.

"Breaking Down" begins with a sound of a drum machine and finds Florence Welch singing in a different tone it sounds like something from the 80's given a fresh make over, it even fittingly has a break down towards the end. "Seven Devils" sounds hauntingly like Kate Bush and even the music sounds erie, like it could have been used in a horror or thriller movie. There is so many fine songs on the album the likes of "Lover To lover", opener "Only If For A Night" which sets the tone nicely for the album. On "Spectrum" the song includes Florence singing over a big dance beat before a breakdown in the middle which features gentle sounding strings, the two sounds work well together.

The deluxe edition features a few new tracks as well as demos and acoustic versions of "Heartlines", "Shake It Out" and "Breaking Down". The demo version of "What The Water Gave Me" is a more beat orientated version. The 3 extra tracks are all worth having and if you're a Florence And The Machine fan then you will want the deluxe edition.

Paul Epworth is once again on production duties as well as songwriting with Welch herself and keyboardist Isabella Summers. "Ceremonials" is a great second album to follow debut "Lungs" and one in which features plenty of standout tracks. There is no second album syndrome here!
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on 8 January 2012
I loved Lungs, I must have played it a thousand times. I saw Florence on joules holland an bought this CD. Its a one track CD.
Her brilliant voice is drowned out with noise. Some tracks start well and then the disco type beat kicks in.
It is a mush of a cd,I was looking forward to another brilliant CD and I felt realt let down. I have tried, played it about 6 times and give up. I'm sure it couldd be good if the production would clear out all that noise and give Florence's voice a chance. If you liked Enya but with some more beat, this is for you.
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on 4 January 2013
This was purchased as a Xmas present for a friend who has not played it yet so cannot review it but if it is like her Lungs album then I am sure it will be great.
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on 5 November 2011
I love this album but it's such a shame that the sound quality of this download on amazon is so poor.

Florence Welch has a beautiful and powerful voice but for some reason the download available doesn't do her voice justice.

The difference heard between the CD and download album is quite obvious and I'm still annoyed that I paid for the album twice (first as a download then as a CD) which is not really what I wanted. OK, the download was on offer at the time for £3.99 but that's not the point!

You don't pay for an album for it to be compressed to death, and really why should I have had to pay twice for the same thing? It may sound OK through an mp3 player or ipod but through a computer or speakers it just doesn't sound right.

I wish to point out that not all downloads available on Amazon are lacking so I don't think it's Amazon's fault at all. I may be wrong, but I think the blame lies with the record company or producers who obviously think it's fine to do this.

I do like CDs and I don't think that will ever change but there are times I just want the download to listen to and the quality of these formats should be the same.
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