A Finely-Tuned Machine
“Dog Days are Over” delivered me my first encounter with Florence + the Machine. I have been captivated by Florence’s voice ever since. Florence emanates an overwhelming purity as she sings, which is enhanced by the fluidity of the band’s instrumentals. The band’s newest album, Ceremonials generates eleven tracks showcasing Florence’s honestly soulful vocals through metaphoric lyrics that provoke contemplation. Every track on the album challenges the listener to delve deeper into the music and excavate meaning. The brand of music Florence + the Machine are pushing encourage and engage active listening; it’s not the kind of music to zone out to, rather it prods critical thinking. Throughout the album I deliberated on the signifance behind the lyrics, and consequently I found myself experiencing a myriad of emotions. “Shake it Out” struck me as ironic. Florence emotes an ethereal tone which made me feel carefree and liberated, yet she is talking about the darkness of suicide. “Lover to Lover” had me feeling energized. The vocal style Florence displayed combined with the organ’s wailing almost transported me to Motown in the 60’s; that’s how much soul the song possessed. Conversely, “Seven Devils” has an eerie demonic vibe that gave me chills, and not in a good way. Under Florence’s seance-like chanting lies a beat reminiscent of Jason’s theme music. Listening to this song had an effect similar to watching a horror movie. I felt my chest restrict and an unshakable uncomfortability slid over me from the moment the beat dropped until the last of the lyrics slithered out. “Seven Devils” is the most blatant example of the provative lyrics throughout the album that are designed to entice emotion and incite analysis. Ceremonials is undeniably an album everyone should lend their ear to, just be prepared to leave it with more than a few questions ruminating. But shouldn’t good music do that to us?