Ceremonials

Released: October 28, 2011

Track List:

  1. Only If for a Night
  2. Shake It Out
  3. What the Water Gave Me
  4. Never Let Me Go
  5. Breaking Down
  6. Lover to Lover
  7. No Light, No Light
  8. Seven Devils
  9. Heartlines
  10. Spectrum
  11. All This and Heaven Too
  12. Leave My Body

Review:

I think I can pretty safely say that every writer has their own set of music they listen to when writing.

Whether it be metal, pop, classical, ska, electronic, pop metal with a classical ska element and electronic vibes, we all have our own little bundle of, “writing songs.” Personally, I have certain artists and albums for varying types of writing. If I’m writing school papers and even posts on the Wonderland, I actually prefer sticking with ambient classical music like Aphex Twin or Ludovico Einaudi. Unless I’m reviewing a song, then I just play the song. With fiction though, anything goes. I swear, I have the weirdest songs in my library (and I’m saying this as a person who reviews Japanese pop music) that for some unfathomable reason inspire me to write.

When I’m looking for ideas, I listen to Florence + The Machine.

It took me ages to give Florence + The Machine a chance. I thought the the voice of the leader singer, Florence Welch, was too screechy, like a cat being skinned alive. Moral of that story is don’t judge a singer by one song. Welch definitely has a very distinctive voice, and it’ll either grow on you or grate on you over time. Sometimes it still does, but with the when Welch’s voice works it is damn powerful. Her voice combined with her instrumentations are what make her such a interesting artist to listen to. What I like about Welch is she combines her haunting voice with really morbid vocals, a trait that would later lead to me developing a huge love for Togawa Jun’s music.

Back to Ceremonials though, the album was released around the time that I still wasn’t completely into idol music the way I am now. At the start of adolescence was when I started branching out with my music beyond just the kid-friendly pop music I’d listened to. Mainly I went into indie and alternative (and Perfume, obviously). Then somewhere along the road my brain decided that I liked J-pop. Before that though, I was at this really weird point where I was still figuring out what I liked in my music. Florence + The Machine was one of the first artists that made me realize two things.

1. I liked female vocalists
2. I like melodramatic female vocalists

I hate boring songs. I don’t care how horrible a song is, if it’s horrible in the most garish way possible, then I can enjoy it in a weird, twisted way. What drew me into Ceremonials was how entrancing it was. Even my least favorite songs on this album still draw me in. Ceremonials is a blend of indie pop, alternative, baroque pop, and even soul. Every song on the album has this flair for the dramatic in the lyrics and the instrumentation that just keeps me listening.

The themes of Ceremonials include heaven/hell, drowning, insanity, and death. All of those are positively morbid concepts, but the delivery makes them work so well. The highlight of Ceremonials, like with Florence + The Machine’s last album, are the lyrics. All the lyrics on Ceremonials are so written with really vivd imagery and some deliciously macabre lyrics. My personal favorite lyrics on the album are the ones from Shake It Out and What the Water Gave Me. Especially What the Water Gave Me; between that, Seven Devils, and Only If for a Night, picking my favorite song off Ceremonials is a challenge.

As I was saying before, I like melodramatic songs. Even if they’re pretentious to the nth degree, I can’t help it. Ceremonials’ best parts are the dips between sinister and macabre songs like Seven Devils and What the Water Gave Me to jubilant, upbeat songs like Lover to Lover and All This and Heaven Too. Even the weaker songs on the album, Heartlines and Lover to Lover, still have such liveliness that I can’t help but enjoy listening to them. Back when I was just starting to figure out not every song had to revolve around falling in love, Ceremonials was the best kind of shock to me.

Objectively, Lungs is the better of Florence + The Machine’s two albums. Both albums are still very good listens, but Lungs has better musical variety and more tracks that stand out. However, I think the cohesiveness of Ceremonials works really well, especially when I’m focusing on writing. I get in this certain mood when I’m trying to write, and often I use music to get to that point. Ceremonials was one of the first albums to make me realize that I worked better listening to music than in silence. The album has just the right blend of moodiness and energy that spurs me to string words together. In fact, I’m listening to Ceremonials right now between writing this and something completely different!

Overall, Florence + The Machine isn’t an artist that will appeal to everyone, but thanks to Ceremonials, she appeals to me. Had I not listened to Ceremonials, I may have nowhere near as big of a writing drive as I do now. Also, I may not have opened up to Togawa Jun, and that would be a tragedy. As an album though, Ceremonials is cohesive with all the darkness of Florence + The Machine’s first album. Now she really needs to get back in the studio and work on that third album…

Ceremonials 

iTunes

Ceremonials (Deluxe Edition) 

iTunes