Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ceremonials Review!

Florence and the Machine are bank after two years with the mind-blowing Ceremonials!

The numbers are the track numbers on the disc, keep that in mind.
1.IT’S HERE AND I LOVE IT! Here’s a track by track review for Only If For A Night. I’ll be posting all the song reviews here and then at the end of the week I”ll put them all together into one post.
Only If For A Night is one of my favorite songs on the album. From the cascading pianos to the great backing vocals, this song really convinced that the sophomore slump wouldn’t affect FATM like so many others. 
First of all, the whole song is a beautiful poem like a vivid fever dream. I love the inclusion of the title in the song as well (dancing on tiptoes, my own secret ceremonials).
The instrumentation is lush but not cluttered.  There’s a piano riff, the signature harp, thundering drums (have no fear, they’re prominent but not obnoxious) and hints of bass.
It’s danceable, the loveable melancholy drama-rama of Florence and the Machine, and a very strong start to one of the albums of the year (this, along with 21 and Who You Are are my albums of the year). I’m thinking this might be the next single after No Light, No Light.
2.Song number 2 and lead single of Ceremonials.
Shake It Out was the first official single for Ceremonials released a couple weeks before the album. I’m pretty sure I already posted a review for this song but it won’t hurt to give it another go.
Shake It Out is kind of like Dog Days from a more mature mind. Florence has aged since Lungs, which is perfectly logical and fine with me. It’s anthemic and tribal and primal. It took some time to grow on me.
This is the big introduction the latest obsession instrument on Ceremonials: The big churchy organ. On Lungs it was the harp, and that still has moments on Ceremonials, but the organ is the instrument of the hour. It’s quite nice and works so well with the tone and songs.
Shake It Out is not my favorite on the album, and I don’t really know why. Don’t get me wrong, I love love love love it, but not as much as Heartlines, What the Water Gave Me or Breaking Down. Again, I’m not entirely sure why. Still thinking about it.
But still a wonderful song! The video is beautiful and I love the guy randomly dancing with the chair.
3. What The Water Gave Me might be my favorite track from Ceremonials. The harp is spotlighted again, the guitars are vintage and twangy, there’s an absolutely amazing bass line, and the organ comes back even more psychedelically gospel than before.
What The Water Gave Me has been described as a scrapbook of a lot of things by Florence Welch herself. There’s drowning, Virginia Woolf and I like to think of the period of time before a tidal wave when this plays. Or mermaids. This is a mermaid-in-love-with-a-human type kind of song.
I love how the song just elevates you and makes you feel bursting with some kind of emotion that resembles happiness over such a dramatic and melancholy topic. But when you look at the water, you automatically want to just leap in and stay there forever, and just be carried away by it. Or at least I have. Florence + The Machine get that perfectly.
One of the standout tracks of Ceremonials for sure.
4. ever Let Me Go is the obligatory but amazing ballad on Ceremonials. The album’s been moving pretty fast up until now, and this song really is one of the standouts.
The songwriting reminds me of mermaids, but in a different way than What The Water Gave Me. Maybe the siren has killed the man she’s in love with and she feels remorse possibly. I don’t know if they ever did, but that’s what I picture, cheesy I know.
The drums and background vocals lean a bit toward the eighties power ballads. But that’s ok, because in all honesty I like those sometimes. It’s a kind of slow dance song.
The lyrics are insanely beautiful and make me so envious I hadn’t written them. It’s hugely romantic and if you’re writing a romance for NaNo this month, I recommend this song. Great for snogging under the moon.
A solid cut from Ceremonials all in all.
5. Breaking Down is one of my most favoritest tracks from Ceremonials, not going to lie.
I love the sharp strings (They remind me of Swimming Song) and the slightly out of tune piano and just that feeling of going down.
This is one of two experiments in old soul/R&B type songs. Flo said she was listening to a lot of Otis Redding and such, and it’s more apparent on the next track but kind of so here. 
I just like that the song is happy and yet you can feel the sadness in it. It’s kind of like wonder-band-song of the year Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks. It’s like FATM’s take on that. It’s something catchy and light if you want it to be and something else deeper if you need it to be.
One of the best cuts. No doubt in my mind.
6. Lover to Lover is by far the blusiest soulful song on Ceremonials. Flo’s love of olf soul/funk/R&B is worn on her sleeve here while still making it her own song.
The song is very piano and bass driven and features a kind of gospel choir to give Flo something to paint on. There’s a great organ as well, much like the rest of Ceremonials, played by the ever excellent Isabella Summers.
If anything, I’m not the biggest fan of the lyrics. I don’t really know why, because I love the song, but the lyrics just don’t impact me like a lot of other Ceremonials cuts. But the chorus soars and it’s so danceable that it’s easy to forget.
7. This might be the best on the album. It’s drama and soul and dance and poetry in that signature Florence way, and very reminiscent of the fan-favorite Howl from Lungs.
This song reminds me of a mixture of all of Lung’s standout moments. And I hate comparing the two so I’m just going to keep it to this one song. Anyway, the drums form Cosmic Love and Howl, that kind of feel as My Boy Builds Coffins, the harp sounds like Rabbit Heart, and yet No Light, No Light sounds new and futuristic. 
As far as lyrics, this is again, a strong moment after the two lyrically weak songs beforehand. I think this is one of Flo’s more personal songs that doesn’t sound as abstract to the casual listener, which is why it’s perfect for the next single. Plus, think of the video! I love Flo’s videos, and I plan on doing a post for those later.
If you’re only planning on buying a few songs from Ceremonials, this would be one to get. Cannot wait for the video and single hype to come for this one!
8. This is where the Flombies attack me……
I don’t like Seven Devils. 
I’m trying to justify myself here, because a lot of people are raving that this is the best song on the album and that it’s just the best, but I don’t really see that. 
I think it’s not musically interesting, and the piano riff becomes annoying after a while. Maybe I just haven’t listened closely enough in the two full days I’ve had the album, but this one has not stuck with me. If my mind changes, I’ll let you know, but for now, this one is filler.
NOTE: After more days spent with the album, I know find this song more bearable, but still, not the best cut considering everything else. A bit disappointed with this one.
9. After the musical yawn that was Seven Devils, this song really put my faith back into the album.
Heartlines is battling for my favorite song off Ceremonials. With the same drums from Rabbit Heart and a kind of epic battle feel, Heartlines is a knock-out.
Florence described this song as mermaids vs. pirates, and she communicates just that. But at the same time, I think this song is where Florence really knows she has impacted her Flombies a lot. “Just keep following the heartlines on your hand-keep it up-I know you can” and other lines really lead you to believe she really cares. If there’s one thing I would like to see more of from FATM is that kind of fan relationship the  Heartbeats with Jessie J, or something like that. Just because  I think it'd be cool. But off the fan ramblings.
Again, standout track. One of Flo’s all time best.
10. The most dazzling song that really does remind you of illuminations and prisms and science.
Once upon a time, people thought Ceremonials was going to be called The Chronicles of Science and that it was going to be all about molecules and quarks and atoms. Strangeness and Charm helped thing theory along, and then Florence said she was working on a song called Spectrum, so we were all getting THE CHRONICLES OF SCIENCE hyped up. Or at least my group of Flombies did.
While the thread of science has largely been abandoned for that of drowning and water, Spectrum is one of the few vestiges of that short era in FATM history.
Where Heartlines is a tribal dance, Spectrum is some kind of alien ritual type dance for me.  The beat is faster, making for more of a dance of a madwoman/man which you are when you listen to a Florence record.
I like the vibe of being strong in the song. It’s a great song to work-out to and it makes me feel like I could run a marathon to the moon. Please don't make fun of me for that, I'm just telling the truth.
On another note, this song is most reminiscent of the album cover to me. With the sparkly dress and mirror type of view. Oh and she mentioned “silver in our lungs” which to me seems like a kind of metaphor to Lungs itself. Maybe that’s just me.
If there’s one thing to complain about this song it’s that Rabbit Heart register of Flo’s voice. I’m not particularly fond of that range on her. She can’t sing it live and it sounds a bit too squeaky for my taste.
One of my favorite and highly recommended.
11. Alll This And Heaven bears a big resemblance to Between Two Lungs, with the spritely piano and soaring chorus. This sounds like it could be form Lungs, which isn’t a bad thing seeing as there needs to be a song the really bridges the gap between two albums (get my pun? I’m just the best right?) 
If anything, the rhythmic timing here is completely weird to me until the song really gets rolling. It messes with your head.
Anyway, like I said, Between Two Lungs resemblance, but it’s for the better. B2L was one of the weaker tracks of FATMS debut and this seems like it’s stronger sister track.
 You feel as if you could fly through fluffy clouds when listening to the chorus, it’s just that big and beautiful. Love love love this song.
12. Leave My Body is what Seven Devils should have been. Kind of dark and brooding but also elevating you to higher ground just as the lyrics as well.
There’s a great lyric in here: “I don’t want your future, I don’t need you past.” 
That’s really what I needed to say to a few people here and there and I really love thi song. One of the great gems of this album.
The instrumentation is bass-y and there’s the gospel choir again, and it makes for a strong closer to the standard album.
Bonus Tracks
Remain Nameless- This one hasn’t clicked with me yet.I usually love electronic music but this one is just kind of a yawn right now. I’ll try to listen to it more closely, but meh so far.
Strangeness and Charm- It’s so nice to hear a studio version of this, but I think the live version had so much more energy. If you can get the Live at the Wiltern copy of this song, it’s better. But not dissing this version, it’s very clean and has it’s sparkling moments.
Bedroom Hymns- A deliciously blasphemous bluesy tune from some part of Florence she hasn’t put into music yet. If Lady Gaga and Madonna think they use religious imagery well, they just got blown away by Florence. I love the bass and drums intro.
What The Water Gave Me Demo- I love this track, not going to lie. I love the album album version more, but this a fun, dance-y take, on a great song. It’s interesting to see where the song started and ended.
Landscapes (Demo)- How this didn’t make the standard album is beyond me. A great song with wonderful poetic lyrics in true Florence style.
Acoustic tracks- I haven’t kept track of them all, but my favorite acoustics are Heartlines, Shake It Out and Breaking down. I know some people have complained of not liking big song after big song but these track really throw in some relief. I personally like the big sound, but hey, these are really beautiful pieces. Shake It Out is especially great acoustic. It’s mainly guitars, keys, and  harps for these, and they’re truly highlights and a worthy addition to the deluxe editions.
Hope you enjoyed!

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