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Distinct vocals continue to define Florence + the Machine

I first became familiar with Florence + the Machine after their smash hit, “Dog Days Are Over,” popped up on my genius bar in iTunes.

Now with the release of their sophomore album, Cerimonials, Nov. 1, lead singer Florence Welch returns with the same flair to which I was initially hooked.

Considering the fact that more than half of the music I own falls under the alternative category, I was already accustomed to this rather unique style of music. Welch’s soft yet powerful voice captures emotion and presents thought-provoking lyrics with intriguing melodies.

After Welch’s first album, Lungs, flew off the shelves in 2009, fans eagerly waited for this new album. They will not be disappointed. Ceremonials transmit’s a mystic and ballad-like tone throughout the album, which is slightly darker in feeling than the previous record.

The second top selling song of the album, according to iTunes, “Only If For A Night,” creates an almost haunting aura, which resonates themes of the supernatural. Welch shows superior taste in the use of vocal fluctuations in this track and hits a wide range of notes to create a masterful blend of sounds.

“And I heard your voice / As clear as day / And you told me I should concentrate / It was all so strange / And so surreal / That a ghost should be so practical.” For me, this song is rather addicting and I constantly want to replay at full blast to be empowered by the pulsing base and harmonies.

Additionally, “Seven Devils” highlights the sheer power in Welch’s voice, which overrides some confusing lyrics. As I sifted through the words, I found hints that she identified herself as a nuisance, pestering a former lover. “Holy water cannot help you now / See I’ve had to burn your kingdom down / And no rivers and no lakes can put the fire out / I’m gonna raise the stakes / I’m gonna smoke you out.”

The arrangement coalesces the base and piano into a distinctive beat which impresses thoughts of a downward spiral. I think this suggests the true essence of the song.

One of the more mellow songs in this record is titled “Heartlines,” which describes a metaphor of love as a river. Combined with the classic Florence + the Machine style, the lyrics in this song are easier to relate to and understand. “Oh, the river, oh, the river, it’s running free / And I’ll join in the joy it brings to me / But I know it’ll have to drown me / Before I can breathe easy.”

“Heartlines” is whimsical yet does not containing the quirkiness of many other tracks, this song touches on ideas about following intuition and feelings concerning relationships.

In my personal favorite song, “Spectrum,” Welch focuses on her experience of finding comfort in another person in every circumstance. Though somewhat repetitive, this contributes to the constant, ad infinitum story the lyrics aim to create.

“Say my name! / As every color illuminates! / We are shining! / And we?ll never be afraid again! / Say my name! / As every colour illuminates! / We are shining! / And we?ll never be afraid again!”

The eerie mood of the more well-known songs translates throughout every track, which is both fascinating and slightly strange. Honestly, without Welch’s aptitude for interesting beats and vocal orchestration, I probably would not listen to this album solely based on lyrical intrigue.

I thoroughly enjoy listening to this album even though I do not particularly connect with the words of most of the songs. I should point out that some mild language appears in the song “Shake It Out,” but it should not taint the aesthetic appeal that Florence + the Machine has rendered.

Overall, Welch finds a new direction in Ceremonials, taking a solemn and realistic approach to love without loosing Florence + the Machine’s classic enticing musical arrangements. Though falling short to create incisive lyrics each song highlights her skill with flawless precision.

Ceremonials can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, or at your local music store for about $9.99.

For more music reviews read the Nov. 21 article Casting Crowns waves metaphorical value into album.

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