The first Florenece and the Machine album was so good largely because of the wide variety of styles and dramatic lunges between them, you never knew where it would go next, but it never disappointed, with almost every track being a standout (if that's technically possible). There was an energy, an innocence and a sort of giddy enthusiasm about the whole thing, and that's what's lacking on Ceremonials. There are some excellent tracks, two of which - Spectrum and All This and Heaven Too - are almost at the end of it, and run the risk of passing people by because they'll switch off somewhere before them. But there is not enough variation here, and most of the songs outstay their welcome by a minute at least - What the Water Gave Me is an example of this in spite of being very good for a long time. There's no subtelty in some of the tracks where there really needs to be, everything gets a big production, there are no really stripped down tracks such as Girl With One Eye, or My Boy Builds Coffins, and that's a great shame. A track like Seven Devils would really benefit from being paired down to the barest levels of instruments and having a vocal that did not sound like everything had to be big. Ultimately, it would make the whole album more listenable if there was more light and shade in it. It's technically perfect, her songwriting has improved, and there's a passion running through it, but it's just all a bit too clinical and over the top, and you're left wanting the slightly ramshackle, loveably ecelectic feel of the first album. Maybe album 3 will be the one that fulfils all her potential?
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