Tuesday, January 10, 2012

tunes tuesday - florence + the machine - ceremonials


Florence + The Machine
Ceremonials 

“I started off singing in church as a child. The sound of voices coming together, that was my first moment of touching something outside of myself. I'm a choir girl gone horribly, desperately wrong." -Florence Welch

This album. Gah, this album!!

I'm a little late on the bandwagon here. I have Florence + The Machine's previous two albums (Lungs & Lungs - The B-Sides), and enjoyed them both as a casual listen here and there, but though I LOVED a few tracks (specifically Cosmic Love & Heavy In Your Arms), I was never fanatically crazy about them. As a result, I didn't rush to get this album when it first hit the scene. I knew I would probably eventually sample it and then decide, but it didn't make my list of things to do right away. Last week I sampled it and realized what I have been missing for the past few months.

BAM! Instantly hooked.

This album is insanely gorgeous. It spoke to me 30 seconds in. Reminiscent of the dark beauty I drowned myself in (from age 12-now) listening to Smashing Pumpkins 1995 album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness from which my favorite song, Tonight Tonight, was birthed.

But I digress.

This album is dark, romantic, spiritual, gothic, powerful.
It is epic. At times spooky and always moody.
From pretty piano melodies 
to a symphony of gorgeous voices 
to drum beats you can't help but stomp your feet to.

It is clear in the lyrics the struggles and conflicts that Florence battles with. Her church upbringing influences her fixation on the spirit world, mortality and, for that matter, morality. Common themes such as love, salvation, redemption, forgiveness, guilt, loneliness and depression run rampant throughout.

Shake It Out seems to be an account of Florence's letting go of her past, her regrets, her demons, her pain and facing a rebirth and a new future, a theme I can certainly relate to. She sings with conviction, "It's hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off... I am done with my graceless heart, so tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart."

In Breaking Down, Florence turns something as dark as depression and loneliness on it's head by making the melody an upbeat, happy one. The juxtaposition makes it clear that the darkness can creep in no matter what your situation is or what your surroundings are.

Leave My Body, a gorgeous record, is an obvious nod to Florence's choir girl background. She is backed by a choir singing, "I'm gonna leave my body, moving on to higher ground..." and she continues the theme of mortality in her haunting What the Water Gave Me and the soothing Never Let Me Go where she sings of succumbing to the water, letting it wash over her, overflow and take her.

I love the reference to Virginia Woolf's drowning/suicide in What the Water Gave Me as she sings, "Lay me down, let the only sound be the overflow, pockets full of stones..." Woolf famously struggled with her demons and took the freedom that she believed only the water could give her. I wouldn't be surprised if Florence was influenced by Woolf in penning What the Water Gave Me.

I have been one of those who find the beauty in the dark. Most of the people I know don't understand, which is fine, but when an artist can make something gorgeous and transcendent out of darkness and pain, my eyes/ears/heart perk up. Florence + The Machine have created an album I won't soon forget and, if my suspicions are correct, neither will you.


{photos via Pinterest}
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