Today, I lived in the UK. My address was 1 Queen Square, Liverpool, L1 1RH, United Kingdom – home of the Liverpool Marriott Hotel City Centre. Today, I paid in Euros. Now, you may be asking, “Why in any state of mind would some crazy fool change her address to the UK?” Well, on this most wonderful Halloween, Florence + the Machine released their second album, Ceremonials, but only in the United Kingdom (selfish). Naturally, I had to have it. So, I tricked the system. I tricked iTunes. Is that legal? I hope so, but with my luck, probably not. I changed my address to Liverpool and I downloaded my well-deserved Florence album, and it is so worth it. Ceremonials is Lungs on drugs, specifically ecstasy.
Obviously this YouTube user put this up illegally (silly them for participating in illegal music downloads) so if it gets deleted, I will try to post a new video as soon as possible.
Let’s just go through every song. Yep, all 20 of them (assuming no one is backing out of the Deluxe Edition version).
“Only If For a Night” is, by far, my favorite of the album. It actually sends chills down my spine. It’s not even Florence Welch’s voice that makes this song so spectacular; it’s the Machine. It’s the piano accompaniment mixed with the pounding of drums. It’s the meaning of this song that brings tears to my eyes and reminds me of a good friend: “I had a dream about my old school, and she was there all pink and gold and glittering. I threw my arms around her legs, came to weeping.” This is the song that proves the amazing progress Florence + the Machine continues to make as they release new music.
If you’ve read my blog before, you know I already have a love for both “Shake it Out” and “What the Water Gave Me,” so I won’t reiterate. The only addition I have to add about these two songs is that they were the perfect introduction to Ceremonials. They were the perfect teaser to every fan’s ears. Accompanied by a choir, “Never Let Me Go,” allows Florence Welch’s voice to shine. Although the song does not start with the usual entrancing sounds of The Machine, Florence’s voice makes up for it in every way possible. And, no need to fear, eventually the adored Machine does chime in.
“Breaking Down” might be the happiest sounding Florence + the Machine song I’ve ever heard, but also features some of the deepest vocals that Florence has produced. Seems like an oxymoron, right? It is, and it’s that oxymoron that makes the song work. Think happy drums beats with faster, deeper vocals. It works, I promise. The sound carries over to the next song, “Lover to Lover,” as the piano and bass create an uplifted Machine sound and Florence heightens her vocals. This song emulates the sound of a gospel church choir.
Another one that I’ve been jamming to today while walking to class is “No Light, No Light.” It works the organ and the singing whispers of Florence: two things that every Florence song needs. This song is actually “Rabbit Heart [Raise It Up]” from Lungs on adderall. (It really should concern you all how many references to drugs I make). It’s the same general tone – starting soft and slow and working up to this powerful explosion where everything comes together – but it’s also so much more focused and mature.
“Seven Devils” is where the album gets creepy; obviously, a good creepy though. The song is clearly new territory for the band, unless you’re like me and you’ve heard all the unreleased tracks that Florence has leaked. Compare this one to “Heavy in Your Arms.” The Machine is less congested and has a steady beat throughout the entirety of the song. During the chorus, Florence, accompanied by a very dark choir, belt out the lyrics, “Seven devils all around me, seven devils in my house. See they were there when I woke up this morning; I’ll be dead before the day is done.” What about that is not creepy? Yet, I can’t stop listening.
“Heartlines” actually starts with the sound of birds and African chants. I cannot make that stuff up. With a similar R&B sound, “Spectrum” focuses on the fast repetition of drum beats, alluding again to an African drum. Both songs illustrate the range of notes that Florence can hit in a beautiful way. I could actually picture both of these songs being on a Lion King 4 soundtrack. With “All This and Heaven Too,” Florence + the Machine pulls away from the African sound while still keeping the signature drum beat. In this song, however, Florence’s voice makes so many varied sounds that it stands apart from the entire album – you hear high notes, low notes, grunge sounds, and giant slides.
The end of the album does not lose its unique Florence + the Machine sound. “Leave My Body” has the great drums, exploding sound, and high-pitches of Florence. In addition, the song also features the background choir that seems to be a new feature to each song on Ceremonials. “Remain Nameless” starts off sounding like a song from Tron or Star Trek, but Florence Welch’s voice pulls it all together to keep it a Florence + the Machine sound. Finally, I’m pretty sure that “Strangeness and Charm,” a song that the band introduced on their tour this summer, is not even in English, contrary to songlyrics.com. However, Florence is just singing that fast – an amazing skill, if you ask me. It’s got that addicting sound that every listener wants to hear end the album.
It’s the fact that every song on this album produces such an original and individual sound that makes it that much more profound. Ceremonials was the perfect follow-up album to Lungs, and after almost two years, every Florence + the Machine fan needed a follow-up. Nothing about this album is disappointing. So, citizens of the United States, I hope you enjoy your delayed release date tomorrow. Sorry you weren’t smart enough to trick the system like I was.