There are two career paths in which being a well-to-do British person are an operational advantage – dastardly Hollywood villain and eccentric art-school pop star. Strangely, though, it’s been a while since Blighty has produced an unashamedly poncey chart artist, so the global breakthrough of Florence Welch (and her Machine) was good news all round.
Following the runaway success of her debut album, Welch has been given the freedom to indulge all her wildest musical fantasies on this follow-up; the singer’s aim was to make songs that are ‘dramatic and spooky’ and in this she has definitely succeeded. Indeed, there are times when you wish she’d dial down the spook-o-stat a few degrees. The whole album proceeds at a single pace –which, sadly, is mid, the least stimulating of all the paces.
The producers have tried their hardest to make each track sound different, but the reality is that each of them follows a template of croony verse-wailing chorus, repetitious choir-assisted crescendo. That’s not necessarily the end of the world, but it means Ceremonials actually sounds less adventurous and experimental than Welch’s debut. Where Lungs had the bold, sinister, yet still Glee-friendly ‘Dog Days are Over’, Ceremonials just isn’t that weird.