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The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Florence’s latest work showcases dark, beautiful feel

Florence and the Machine perform at the Greek theare in Berkeley June 12, 2011. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The first thing that strikes you about Florence Welch, who records as “Florence and The Machine,” is her voice. It’s amazing.

The second is her theatricality. These two things combine on “Ceremonials,” Florence and The Machine’s second album (after 2009’s “Lungs”), to make an enjoyable experience.

As a whole, “Ceremonials” features a darker, more epic sound than “Lungs,” with songs that feature organs, big choirs and emotional build-ups.

Producer Paul Epworth (who produced Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”) placed a nice amount of reverb on “Ceremonials,” giving it a sense of spaciousness that “Lungs” lacked.

Also contributing to this sound is Welch’s intense vocals. She belts the words out as if her life depended on winning a singing contest.

Welch can reel it in, but generally the last minute of a song lets her theatrical side loose.

While “Lungs” featured songs such as “Kiss With A Fist” (a garage rock song) and “You Got The Love” (a harp-driven cover of a house music hit), the variety of genres present on that album is instead replaced with a more unified sound, to the benefit of “Ceremonials.”

Most of the songs are rather gloomy, like the promotional single “What The Water Gave Me,” which is about suicide.

Fittingly, this song features a haunting choir and nice interplay between lower frequency instruments like bass and organ.

Even when the genre changes, it’s not jarring. “Lover to Lover” is an honest-to-goodness blues-rock song, yet its instrumentation and downbeat lyrics (the chorus repeats, “There’s no salvation for me now”) flows with the rest of the album.

As you may have picked up by now, the lyrical themes on this album are rather dark. Welch still writes a lot about death, although now jilted love is in her repertoire.

While some of the lyrics seem really vague, they’re much better than the catchphrase-laden lyrics of Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto.”

“Ceremonials” is a better album than “Lungs” in every way, completely avoiding a sophomore slump.

The darker sound might turn off some listeners and the songs don’t have as much stand-alone appeal as her earlier hits like “Dog Days are Over,” but they show that Welch is capable of something phenomenal.

The songwriting, musicianship and production come together to produce a dark, interesting and satisfying experience.

I can’t recommend “Ceremonials” enough.

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About the Contributor
John Kesler
John Kesler, Opinion editor
Opinion editor, spring 2012. Staff member, fall 2011.

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Florence’s latest work showcases dark, beautiful feel