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Florence + the Machine: Ceremonials

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    Female Brit singers are tearing up the U.S. pop charts these days, and the latest release from Florence and the Machine will likely extend the streak. While their first album was a bit more spare, Ceremonials could serve as the soundtrack to a fever dream or vision quest: it’s grandiose, violent, hallucinatory, gorgeous. Florence Welch’s tormented, soulful vocals are backed up by layered, ethereal choruses, booming Celtic-style drums, guitars, harp, and a sonorous organ that pours out a surging, oceanic floodtide of sound as an aural equivalent to Welch’s doomy, operatic lyrics with their surreal landscapes, ghostly emanations, sorrowful dirges, and death- welcoming ecstasies. Indeed the haunting and hymnlike “What the Water Gave Me” depicts the final drowning moments of a grateful suicide. It’s no coincidence that we’ve heard something similar to the massive sonic wavefront and emotional power of Ceremonials recently in Adele’s hugely popular “Rolling In the Deep”; both singers worked with songwriter/ producer Paul Epworth on their recent albums. Of course both have the vocal resources to inspire such treatment, clearly evidenced in the deluxe-disc bonus: a stripped-down demo of “What the Water Gave Me” that highlights the power and virtuosity of Welch’s singing

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