x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Florence & The Machine: Ceremonials

There's the kind of power fans have come to expect on Florence Welch's latest album, but parts of Ceremonial do disappoint.

Florence & The Machine
Ceremonials
(Island)
***

"The girl has seen the world and the world has seen the girl" notes the press release for Ceremonials, and the rise of south Londoner Florence Welch has been spectacular indeed.

The wan-skinned, pop-gothic stylings of her UK Chart-topping debut Lungs ensured a snug fit when she sang Heavy in Your Arms for the soundtrack of 2010 vampire film The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, while, earlier this year, Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World list ranked Welch at number 51. Naturally, such high-powered props have ensured there is a lot riding upon the release of the singer's second album, Ceremonials.

Welch's record company reportedly suggested she write the follow-up to Lungs in Los Angeles with a crack team of US creatives, but she declined, opting to reconvene with trusted producer Paul Epworth instead. The resulting record is a dense, lengthy affair. The harmonium intro to Shake It Out works well, and the capable, gung-ho singer billed by Lungs remains, but Ceremonials is a little light on nagging hooks, and only five tracks in, with Breaking Down, do we arrive at a song packing something of the immediacy of Welch's previous hit You've Got the Love. Spectrum - a floor-filler that briefly drops to icy, Clannad-like harp - is a huge hit-in-waiting, but parts of Ceremonials disappoint, with bombast no substitute for inspiration's elusive spark.

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