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Wedding-style organ notes fade in, echoed chords slowly infiltrate and the dulcet tones of Miss Welch begin for what can only be the starter track of the new Florence and the Machine album, “Ceremonials.” The second album after the storming success of 2009’s “Lungs” is no disappointment, barging its way into the UK album chart at number one and shuffling its nose into the Top Ten in the US chart.
It seems the only way is up for the redhead and her roadies; starting a national tour on March 2, they will be rocking stages with their new sound at Dublin’s O2 Arena, through Bournemouth, Cardiff, Nottingham, London, Glasgow, Manchester, and finishing at Newcastle’s Metro Arena March 16.
Speculation about the band’s tour may not be isolated to the music, though: questions of what outfits she may wear onstage will undoubtedly paint headlines in the papers. Something of a London ‘it’ Girl, much focus has been on Florence’s indie-hippy persona, inventive clothing and, of course, fantastic flaming hair.
She is in the company of many successful Brit artists of late such as Adele, both of whom find their careers rocketing in the US, and their appearances scrutinized in magazines. Florence, however, seems to regard the matter with little interest: “It’s not inner turmoil. It’s total escapism. I’m not wrestling with my emotions. It’s a dress,” she said.
The singer has previously declared she is not interested in that side of her career: “I already feel like mine is planned out for the next two years, so I don’t think I’d like to get anymore famous!”
What remains is the music. Facades aside, what we have left is a truly soulful album. While “Shake It Out,” a lead track from the album released a few weeks ago, may have been a more obvious and go-getting start, what is chosen instead is the more subtle and vocal-based “Only If For a Night.” It is one of the more gothic and mournful songs, which, although a slow-burner, particularly for new fans, generates a feeling of familiarity.
While criticized for multi-tracking on vocals in many, if not most, of the tracks, this new sound creates an almost tribal-like feel, as in “What the Water Gave Me,” released over the summer. It is also in these songs that we hear the much examined similarity to Kate Bush: the warbling trills and mordents that somehow complement the unique mesh of harps, bells, organs, guitars and drums to create that atmospheric sound specific to the Brit indie group.
The more radio-friendly tracks also make an appearance, such as “Heartlines,” with a return of the tambourine beat we all love and mood-lifting choruses you know you will find yourself belting alongside to, regardless of whether or not you know the lyrics. Tickets for the 2012 tour will be on sale November 25.