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TBTS Reviews: Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials

November 13, 2011

British Art Pop has a new queen, and her name is Florence. If you doubt this, take a good listen to just two tracks off of Ceremonials (Universal Republic) “Shake It Out” and the phenomenal “All This and Heaven Too.” The latter of which is begging to be used over the end credits of some new Cannes Film Festival darling. I’ll admit I didn’t get it at first, being that much of what Florence + the Machine has been up to seems, at minimum, somewhat derivative. Something I have said for years and still maintain, is that if what you do is original and good it has a fair chance, however if what you are doing isn’t very original it had better be very good. Ceremonials is very good. You can draw a straight line to Kate Bush and some not so straight ones to Roxette, Annie Lennox and a few other Euro Pop/Art Rock artists for most of Florence + the Machine’s tunes, but it would be kind of missing the point to debate the origins and influences of the material presented, in lieu of enjoying the music. Music which has already shown significant improvement between their first release, Lungs in 2009, and now.

Although not overly dance oriented, the necessary elements of such were not forsaken. It wouldn’t take much to turn any of Ceremonials tracks into a remix destined for the dance floor. “Strangeness and Charm” (from the Deluxe version) would have been perfect for inclusion on the Batman: Arkham City soundtrack, with it’s dark threads woven intricately through harp tones and pulsing synth choruses. “Bedroom Hymns” (also from the Deluxe) is a powerful tour de force lending itself toward anthemic proportions, not entirely different from how one would describe the aforementioned “Shake It Out,” though both stand strong on their own. Most of this disc’s tunes could easily be placed somewhere else separately and do well, but still seem right at home when gathered together.

It is possible some would consider Florence + the Machine an acquired taste. For myself that’s an accurate description, so don’t discount the possibility. There is a lot going on and much to discover in the hidden recesses of Ceremonials. So if you are thinking of snatching up a copy, go for the Deluxe version to get the full effect. You know, let go of your expectations, lean back and have fun with it.

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