Artist: Florence and the Machine
Two years after the release of her debut album, Lungs, Florence Welch and her accompanying Machine have returned with a more cohesive record in Ceremonials. However, what she has gained in that cohesion, she loses again in her cautiousness.
Rather than feeling like a departure from Lungs, it is simply a darker, more melodramatic version of her first offering, which is a feat in itself considering her already established penchant for drama.
Welch’s voice is right at the centre of creating that drama, with its tormented throaty howls and banshee-like wails, particularly obvious on ‘No Light, No Light’ and ‘Lover to Lover’. She overshadows even the booming drums, deep synth bass, cascading harps and powerful church organs, all of which offer a much more robust, self-assured sound than before.
This is where the problems lie, however. It all feels too much. An album of anthems becomes overkill and before you’re halfway through, it all begins to sound like you’ve just been listening to the same song for far too long. Ever the romantic, she is unyielding in lamenting her failures and incompetence in love, and quite frankly, it gets old, with little to break up the melancholic collection but a vaguely more upbeat number in ‘Breaking Down.’
It’s unfair to say that this is a terrible effort, because it is not. Individually, the tracks are compelling, haunting and very often exquisite but the lack of progression and the theatrics take from the album as a whole, leaving the listener almost exhausted. Over-ambitious at best.
In a Nutshell: Like ‘Dog Days Are Over’ on speed, dragged out over twelve tracks. Relentless.