The second album tends to define an artist's career. It's pretty much a universal fact that the success of an artist's second album lays the tracks for the train that is their relevance. For instance, The Killers' second album led them away from success while Adele's arguably rocketed her into international success. It all comes down to the little choices you make. Whether to maintain the style that brought you acclaim in the first place, or to take this attention you now have and take a risk. There are historical points to prove that both ways are viable, and that both ways can lead to ruin. Florence + The Machine seem to have taken the path Katy Perry did, in maintaining their sound for their second album. And it seems to be working, as the lead single, “Shake It Out” has done quite well for the group and their second single, “No Light, No Light” has already begun making splashes in other countries. So what's the secret to the success of Ceremonials?
The first thing to always remember is that Florence Welch, the crimson-haired vocalist and namesake for the group, is a powerhouse when it comes to her voice. She may not have the diva belt of Jessie J, but her voice has a timeless, deep, and seductive quality to it. Couple that with the group's unique sound, and voila, you have “Dog Days Are Over,” the track that brought them to the public eye and catapulted them into fame. And it's a philosophy that stuck with “Shake It Out,” but thankfully Florence + The Machine did pull a few new tricks out of the hat- though they didn't really need to. The album really does exhibit a stronger sense of self than Lungs did, a little more assurance that this is what they should be making, musically speaking.
New album brings a lot of confidence
A great example of this confidence comes from “Spectrum,” an alliance of music and lyrics that comes across both assertively and a little intensely. The song is broken up by bits of harp-ly quiet, beauty breaking the beast momentarily until the driving rhythm invades again. “Only For A Night” is a slower song, but still full of poignancy and grace, Welch's voice flowing into her upper ranges beautifully. The group throws a bit of soul into “Lover To Lover,” showing they can adapt and morph their sound into a variety of directions to hit you hardest. “Never Let Me Go” throws in some electronic beat machine noises for a slower almost r&b jam of a track, Florence wailing over the chords in what can only be described as a heart-wrenching plea for self-absolution. It's an incredibly vulnerable view into a group who's music typically forms a sonic wall around Welch, allowing you to get in the cracks of the beats and feel along with her, rather than feel in awe due to her. The basic, unyielding need to be held, to feel as if you belong, Welch is desperate for that, among it all.
This is also an album that can find itself translated to the dance floor incredibly well. Already the singles "Shake It Out" and "No Light, No Light" have received remix attention, and the majority of the album lays within an easy tempo range to easily be remixed for maximum impact. "Spectrum," as mentioned before, would also make an excellent dance floor transformation, as would "What The Water Gave Me" (although this would be a great chill song). So for you dance floor people who love hearing Welch over a hot beat, bide your time. It will continue to happen from this album.
Ultimately it is a Florence + The Machine album, and that this is only their second effort and is it easy to say that, I think it is a success. The group have forcibly carved a niche for themselves in the market with a unique and provocative take on the folk sound, injected it with pop, soul, and power to make it accessible and gorgeous. “Spectrum” is my choice for ultimate stand out of the album, but don't miss “Heartlines,” or the slow and tortured album closer “Leave My Body.” If you have enjoyed anything this group has ever done, chances are you will fall in love with this album. Probably just as important as Adele's second album was...
Released November 2011 on Universal/Republic.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the record label. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.