A ceremonial machine

By Hlumela Mkabile

For a dropout art college student Florence Welch has a remarkably vigorous, but yet well groomed voice. Welch’s versatile voice reaches dynamic highs and alluring lows in the Ceremonials album in songs such as Shake It Out and What The Water Gave Me.

Welch’s uniqueness is also expressed through the structure of her band. The indie rock band, Florence and the machine, is not your average band with permanent members. Welch is the only constant member of the band, hence the name, while the other members of the band are contributing artists that change every now and then.

For someone who has never listened to material by Florence and the machine or indie rock music the opening song of the album, Only If For A Night, subtly lures one into the indie rock genre. The slow start with a piano soon builds into a semi-tribal sound backed up by a choir in the chorus allows one to build emotion an imagination with the song.

All this is quite opposite to the next song on the album. Although Shake It Out has a slow start as well, it immediately goes into the powerful rock, yet pop-like feel, which can be somewhat intimidating to the ear. However, this is supplemented by the somewhat positivity of the song, expressed in lyrics like “It’s always darkest before the dawn” and “And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off”.

All the songs in the Ceremonials album offer a weird mixture of an orchestral and tribal sound that starts slow and delicate but soon builds into a fierce uproar of instruments and Welch’s dynamic voice supplemented by a backing choir.  This is, however, not the entirety for a few exceptions on the album.

Songs like Never let Me Go, Leave My Body and Remain Nameless remain partly delicate throughout with individual stories told in unique and enticing lyrics. Although this is a promising album it does enjoy its fair share of criticism from reviewer, Todd Martens , as he describes its sound as heavily processed and ripped from a Radio Disney album.

Despite the criticism, the Ceremonials album is overall a good one, although at first listen it may cause some confusion because of its busy and flamboyant sound. A handful of songs in the album make it worth a listen and something different to listen to.


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