Not much of a Ceremony

By Kyle Brown
Entertainment Editor
If ever there was a Modern British Invasion, this would be the time. With recent hits dominating American radio play from Muse’s The Resistance to Coldplay’s fresh release, Mylo Xyloto, it seems America can no longer curb its hunger for British beats.
The most powerful example of the UK’s growing music dynasty came last winter in the sound of Adele’s 21; any American who says “Rolling In the Deep” wasn’t stuck in their head for a good two months this past year is lying through their teeth. 

While the influx of British talent has been well-received for the most part, some are just meant to amount to more than others. Florence and the Machine is just one of those artists who seem to be cursed to live in the shadow of the others who have already gripped America by the ear.
While Florence and the Machine (performance name for 25-year old Florence Welch) debuted at number two on the UK charts with her 2009 album, Lungs, she could only claw up to 17 on the American Billboard chart following its release in the states three months later. 
Her sophomore release, Ceremonials, while nearly copying Adele note for note, has done remarkably well, considering it reached the sixth spot in its first week on the American market.
When I say she’s mimicking Adele, I’m not kidding. “Shake It Up,” the second song on the album, has a choir shouting in the background during the chorus, and the resulting effect is a near double of “Rolling In the Deep.” While catchy, I knew it sounded familiar when I first heard it.
Despite her apparent desire to mirror Adele’s style and identical piano playing, Welch does utilize some very unique elements throughout Ceremonials.
A couple motifs I found particularly tasty (Sounds have flavor. Lay off.) were the repeated use of organs, beckoning to Arcade Fire’s “Intervention,” as well as inventive string work throughout, including extensive harp scales on “No Light, No Light” and plenty of violin on nearly every song.
I’ll admit, “Heartlines” is probably my favorite track out of the whole album, particularly because of its intense, driving, almost tribal feel manufactured by a combination of the dramatic drum pounding throughout as well as its near-chant hooks. The clapping, tambourine and wind chime culminate in a percussion symphony, creating by far the most original and outgoing work on the album.
Ceremonials, while overall pretty solid, sounds like it’s trying too hard at more than one point. Tracks like the histrionically titled “All This and Heaven Too” prove that there is a such thing as too much theatrics when it come to music and push dramatic, ambient beats ad nauseam. Honestly, Flo, there’s only so much synth and lack of snare one can take.
Ceremonials is a work that means well, but just didn’t turn out quite the way its creator wanted it. After awhile, the entire album really bleeds into one song. What originally set out to be an experiment with all of her cool new percussion toys ended up sounding like a medium-slow choir piece with a soloist here and there. It’s not invasion-worthy, but it’s still a good try.